Workforce Housing

A New Workforce Housing Development Is Headed to Bradenton

The Nest at Robin’s Apartments will see 182 residential units all priced as workforce housing.

By Kim Doleatto April 25, 2024

The complex will be located at 2303 East 1st Street, in Bradenton.

The Nest at Robin's Apartments will bring 182 new residential units to Bradenton—but unlike other projects going up in the region, these will all be priced as workforce housing. The units will be on a vacant five-acre lot next to Robins Apartments, just south of U.S. 301 on First Street East and east of South Tamiami Trail. Even though groundbreaking is next month and the project will take roughly 18 months to complete, builder and developer One Stop Housing has already received more than 100 applications.

Soaring local rents have made national headlines in recent years and interest rates have increased, making affordable housing a hot topic. It's gaining some traction with local and state governments, with legislation like the Live Local Act, which, among other points, allows for increases in density and height in exchange for the creation of affordable units. It was recently applied to a downtown Sarasota project that's still in its early stages. 

What's different about The Nest is that 100 percent of the units will be—and remain—priced for working people, spanning 60 percent to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The Nest will be right next to Robin's Apartments, with completion expected in late 2025.

Units will range from 300 square feet for a studio, (34), to 550 square foot, one-bedroom units (74) and 750 square foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom units (74). 

The studios will be priced at 60 percent of AMI, which amounts to a one-person household earning no more than $42,240 a year. The one and two-bedroom units will be priced at 80 percent of the AMI, which amounts to $64,320 a year for a household of two.

With terms like "affordable," "attainable" and "workforce" floating around the topic of housing, Mark Vengroff, managing partner of One Stop Housing and a long-time veteran in producing affordable and workforce housing, explained the difference. 

"Affordable housing" targets those earning 60 percent or less of the AMI, which amounts to $42,240 a year for a single-person household. "This is usually where you see the housing authority involved, or low-income tax credit builders, Section 8 and voucher systems—it's often subsidized," Vengroff explains. "True workforce housing is priced from 60 percent to 80 percent of the AMI."

Meanwhile, "attainable housing" clocks in at 80 percent to 120 percent of the AMI.  "Market rates" start at 120 percent of the AMI and more. For example, the new BaySide apartments coming to the Rosemary District utilize market rates to determine pricing (in that case, $2,500 per month and up).

Another way to measure affordability is to consider that 30 percent of an annual salary should include rent and utilities. Anyone who pays more than that is considered cost-burdened.

That benchmark accounts for more than half of all Floridians. And locally, "recent data shows that more than 60 percent of households in Bradenton spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing," Vengroff says. 

That means the wait lists for workforce housing are long. Vengroff says that every One Stop Housing property has roughly 100 applicants on its waitlist. "Since Covid, people just aren't moving. Once they find affordability, they hang onto it for dear life," he says. 

As for the people applying to live at The Nest, they're local government workers, law enforcement, nurses, teachers, hospitality workers, and lots of people who work at Safran and Tropicana, Vengroff says.

"It's a huge cross-section," he says. "Eight percent to 14 percent [of applicants] are retirees with limited incomes. They tend to babysit a lot for the single parents, which makes for a nice little micro-community. Five percent to 10 percent are students; another 5 percent to 10 percent are disabled and unable to work. And 60 percent to 65 percent are families who work nearby and need to not commute the long distances they've had to."  

Vengroff adds that less than 40 percent of all One Stop Housing tenants have their own transportation, so the company's properties are often on a bus stop line. "If you're working and rely on public transportation, how far you are from work can be a mountain to climb— especially if you have kids," he says.

The complex will also have security and on-site maintenance and management.

Future One Stop Housing projects in the works include Eagle Rock of Manatee, which is a collaborative multifamily development effort between the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation and One Stop Housing that depends on buy-in from area employers to build a housing community for employees.

Meanwhile, in Sarasota, early talks point to the potential for partnering with the county school board to produce housing for school workers.

Vengroff is all for the collaboration. "Anyone who has a mission-driven, philanthropic vision, and is willing to make just a modest return but give back, we'll help them get there," he says. "That's why our pipeline has been so full."

The public is invited to join Manatee County commissioners and Mayor Gene Brown on May 22, at 2 p.m., on-site to celebrate The Nest's groundbreaking at 2 p.m., on Wednesday, May 22. For more information click here or call (941) 586-4947.

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