City closes deal on Kennedy housing complex


Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Gainesville officials closed on Kennedy Homes Apartments late Wednesday afternoon, advancing plans to raze the now-abandoned affordable housing complex and turn it into market-rate housing.

The $1.95 million deal, which has been in negotiations since last spring, has been seen by city officials as a key step in bringing economic development to southeast Gainesville.

"The mayor and City Commission set the acquisition of this property as a priority in the revitalization of southeast Gainesville and a keystone in the Southeast Gainesville Renaissance Initiative," Radson said. "Now we can move forward with the renaissance plans and construct a high-quality mixed income residential project."

While the purchase represents a major step for the city's plan, the city must still persuade the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which subsidized apartments in the complex, to lift restrictions that require it be used for "very low income" housing until 2009. Radson, who has lobbied elected and appointed federal officials to remove this restriction, said he had confidence the city would prevail.

"When I met with HUD officials last fall, they were positively inclined to respond to the city's request," he said. "But they wanted to first ensure the city was the owner of the property."

Gainesville officials plan to release more details about the purchase and the future plans for the site at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Kennedy Homes was closed and abandoned in 2005 after a fire exposed serious problems with electrical and gas lines in the complex. The fire came after inspections by city and federal authorities documented potentially life-threatening problems with some of the complex's apartments.

Gainesville city commissioners have made the Kennedy Homes property a major focus of their eastside revitalization efforts since 2005, when they approved a plan to buy the site and turn it into a mixed-income, owner-occupied housing complex.

Early in January, the City Commission hired a firm to develop a master plan for the area.

Jeff Adelson can be reached at 352-374-5095 or adelsoj@ gvillesun.com.

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