Affordable housing project back on in Sarasota
SARASOTA- In January, he told the city of Sarasota he quit, regulations and fees made it too hard to build affordable housing in the city, but the project may have found new life.
When Harvey Vengroff abandoned his affordable housing project, he got four $8 million dollar offers to build luxury condos and apartments on the land, all of which he turned down.
“It’s not the right thing,” Vengroff said. “It’s not the right thing, if I were 35, I’d probably take the $8 million and buy a lottery ticket see if I could double up.”
But he wanted to build affordable housing, and was again approached by the city.
“There had been so much work done at that point,” Commissioner Hagen Brody said. “I thought that would be a shame to lose what is really a much needed project for the city of Sarasota, so I approached Harvey to try to come back to the table.”
The City council voted 3-2 to bring back the project, by eliminating fees he’s already paid, but lapsed when he withdrew the project from the city.
“That would enable him to reinsert and restart his application process where he left off,” Brody said. “Without paying the same application fees, which are significant which he already paid.”
It was fees that originally led Vengroff to withdraw, and he could still have to pay close to $2 million dollars in impact fees to the county and school board.
But Vengroff hopes city officials will help him work with the county to lower fees usually required for development that will bring more people to an area.
“Most of them are living here anyway,” Vengroff said. “They may be doubling up with family, or they may be living in cars or tents, or living in something that’s not affordable.”
“Some of the things I’m hopeful about,” Brody said. “Some of the hurdles are tough, but it’s a conversation that I’m willing to have.”
And conversations that could help them bring even more affordable housing to the city in the future.
“Most of our clientele if you will,” Vengroff said. “And they work hard, and they should be entitled to a place to live that’s comfortable and safe.”
Vengroff has already met with builders, and plans to move forward with the project, but it could still be close to 6 months before any building begins.