Despite increased costs, the construction of the $34 million Nathan Ridge workforce housing community is moving forward.
The 192-unit apartment complex will be located off the First Coast Expressway southwest of the intersection of Old Jennings Road and Discovery Drive in Middleburg.
Vestcor, the developer, said the project was in jeopardy if it did not receive $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from Clay County.
Following a discussion that lasted less than 10 minutes, the Clay County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the funds at its most recent meeting. However, there was some debate about whether the money should be awarded to Vestcor.
Board Chair Wayne Bolla said the county was already providing funding with bond money from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. “Maybe we can put that $600,000 towards somebody else’s project.”
However, Vestcor President Ryan Hoover pointed out that the FHFC money is a loan, not a grant.
“Without the ARPA funding, we would have had a gap in our financing, which would have most likely led to a delay without closing and construction commencement,” said Hoover.
Hoover said another option would’ve been to “cut something from the project” like the amenities “or try to find another source of funding.”
Nathan Ridge will be similar to Macie Creek apartments in Middleburg, another Vestcor development. The community will have eight buildings, a clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center, dog park, playground, and a pavilion with grills.
Commissioner Mike Cella said that other Florida counties are committing millions of dollars in ARPA funds to affordable housing. “Counties all across the state are moving forward with much larger amounts than what we are here; in terms of the $600,000 as far as ARPA funds to create affordable housing or at least to subsidize it or get it off the ground and move in the right direction.”
Vice-Chair Betsy Condon was also in favor of the motion. “I just think it’s necessary that we continue to support things our public service employees can afford. I don’t know if our public service employees can afford a $1,700, $1,800, or $1,900 a month rent,“ said Condon.
Once construction begins in April, Nathan Ridge is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023.