Local residents and community leaders gathered for a May 12 grand opening ceremony at Hilltop Landings apartments in Dade City, following 18 months of construction.
The $15 million project serves as a replacement for Dade Oaks, a 38-year-old apartment complex that was built at the bottom of a drainage basin, forcing residents to regularly deal with flooding.
Those residents get first dibs on Hilltop Landings, located about a mile away from Dade Oaks, at 15641 14th St.
Designed and constructed by Gorman & Company Inc., the new complex consists of 69 modern, energy-efficient units, serving the needs of low-income families in Pasco County.
Sitting on 13 acres, the development includes a playground, community center and community gardens, all of which are well-lit and monitored with security cameras.
Pasco County pledged $2 million for the project, with the remaining funds coming from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, First Housing, Boston Capital and RBC Capital Markets.
“It’s been a long struggle. It does my heart really well to see what we’ve accomplished here,” Pasco County Housing Authority Chairman David Lambert said at the ceremony. “It’s a far cry from three years ago when we came out and we started working on this complex. It took a lot of people…and we set out on a mission to replace or rehab all of our housing stock.”
Lambert was particularly thankful for HUD’s involvement in helping to facilitate the new development, along with its overall partnership with the housing authority.
“They provide a lot of funding…for some of our most underserved areas,” Lambert said. “We try to transition our folks out of public housing. Home ownership is one of the great American dreams, and HUD is a great provider and a great beacon for us.”
Ellis Henry, director of the state HUD office in Jacksonville, referred to the Hilltop Landings apartments as a “unique” project.
“This is something that’s not going to happen very much with just HUD and the federal funds,” Henry said. “This is a collaboration of many stakeholders, many funding sources, and the state and other entities that provide resources, as well as money to make this happen. That’s the wave of the future, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Pasco County Commissioner Ted Schrader said Hilltop Landings “is just one piece of the puzzle” in continuing to grow the county, noting its ability to provide affordable housing to Dade Oaks residents, as well as other low-income families.
“Dade Oaks was in an area that had some challenging issues with flooding and other issues that makes this such an attractive opportunity and an attractive alternative to where (Dade Oaks residents) once were,” Schrader said. “We’re proud to be able to provide some SHP (Supportive Housing Program) money with the HUD money to construct this fine facility.”
Schrader was also quick to mention the increases in the county’s housing prices, saying, “we still need to be cognizant that housing prices are rising, and (it) is becoming more and more of a challenge for the workforce to have a place they can call home.”
Patricia Gray, a resident of Dade Oaks, will soon be moving into Hilltop Landings, and was delighted the new housing is finally ready.
“Me and all the other residents, we never thought this was going to be here,” she said, “but now we have it, and we don’t have to worry about the flooding. We’re going to be safer.”
Once all residents are moved out of Dade Oaks, those buildings will be demolished and the area will be used for stormwater retention.
Pasco County Public Transportation plans to include Hilltop Landings on its bus route.
Hilltop Landings sits on 13 acres. It has a number of amenities, including on-site management, on-site social services, washers and dryers, a playground, a community center, a community garden, and security cameras and lighting. It has one- to four-bedroom apartments and duplexes.
Published May 18, 2016