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A Multi-Family Apartment Complex With Affordable Units Is Coming to Tuttle and Bahia Vista

Yesterday, City Commissioners voted for a zoning change that will allow a 250-unit apartment building on the former Doctors Hospital site.

By Kim Doleatto April 18, 2023

Bahia Vista Apartments will be located at 2750 Bahia Vista St., at the Tuttle Avenue intersection.

Image: Kim Doleatto

Despite pushback from residents of the nearby Alta Vista and Arlington Park neighborhoods, City of Sarasota commissioners voted 4-1 yesterday, in a final vote, in favor of rezoning the former Doctors Hospital site on the corner of Tuttle Avenue and Bahia Vista. This paves the way for the owner, Bahia Vista Associates, to build a new, four-story, 250-unit apartment building there.

The development on the 6.09-acre site depended on the vote, which allows higher density in exchange for the inclusion of affordable units. Bahia Vista Apartments will be the first example of the city’s move to incentivize affordable housing by providing density bonuses for developers along some urban corridors. Of the 250 dwelling units proposed for the site, a minimum of 25 of the dwelling units would have to be designated as affordable. In this case, the developer is including 35. 

The previous Doctors Hospital was demolished in 2015, but a portion of the site remains active, with a medical practice and a 400-space parking structure that the developer intends to keep and renovate for apartment residents. Project renderings show the apartments will include a clubhouse, pool, dog walk area, a community outdoor space with a fire pit, and 466 total parking spaces. The residential units will be in two buildings, one attached to the existing parking structure and the other located on the northern half of the site, with a pedestrian walkway joining the two buildings. The buildings will not exceed a maximum height of 60 feet when architectural features are included. The outdoor community spaces will be internal, using the residential buildings to provide screening from the busy roadways and adjacent neighborhoods.

Architectural rendering of Bahia Vista Apartments.

At a previous meeting, on Jan. 17, opponents of the project cited inconsistency with the comprehensive plan, incompatibility with nearby residential neighborhoods, traffic impacts, safety, noise and light pollution, and a decrease in home values.

However, Jon Thaxton of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, a longtime affordable housing advocate, supported the project, stating, "The site is clearly contemplated for a use other than single-family and the site is an ideal location for affordable housing."

Another comment, from city staff, cited the favorability of the location, which has many nearby services including daycares and preschools, medical and dental offices, a public elementary school, a public high school, a health club and religious institutions, all within walking distance from the site. Further, nearby businesses may offer employment opportunities as well as medical, social and educational amenities to residents if the proposed amendment and development are approved. 

The affordable dwelling units will be priced for households with incomes at or below 120 percent of the area median income (AMI). According to the 2021 Census Bureau, the median household income in Sarasota County was $69,490. Rental agreements will last for a minimum of six months and the affordable units, which must be scattered throughout the market-rate units, must remain so for a minimum of 30 years. Market rate prices were not yet determined.

According to the 2022 rental income limits for the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton municipal statistical area, affordable is deemed at or less than 120 percent of the $90,400 median income. That means a household of two earns no more than $82,920 a year, and a family of four earns no more than $103,560 a year.

Staff comments also pointed to the affordable housing crisis, which sees landlords increasing rents overnight with no caps in place, leading to a lack of housing for many local workers. The area's median rent shot up to more than $2,000 a month last year, surpassing historically pricey Miami-Dade.

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