More than one-third of residents in Florida’s Citrus County are seniors, one of the highest rates in the nation. With many seniors on fixed incomes and the last low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) project built in the county more than 12 years ago, boutique development firm Green Mills Group set out to create needed affordable housing near retail and services.
Founded four years ago by Oscar Sol and Mitch Rosenstein, Green Mills Group applied for and was awarded its first competitive 9% LIHTCs to construct the 119-unit Forest Ridge in Hernando. It partnered with Royal American Development, who also was the general contractor and serves as property manager.
Forest Ridge not only provides 89 one-bedroom and 30 two-bedroom units for seniors 55 and older earning between 40% and 60% of the area median income, but it has set aside 10% of its units for veterans.
In addition to being adjacent to a Publix grocery store and other services, the property has a new bus stop so the seniors have easy access to public transportation. It also features a wealth of amenities and services, including adult education workshops, health and wellness programs, a hair salon, a dog park, a swimming pool, a community garden, shuffle board, and a putting green.
“Both [Rosenstein] and I have parents living on fixed incomes,” says Sol. “We looked at the development process as where we would want our parents to live.”
The developers incorporated sustainable features into the project, such as low-flow plumbing fixtures and Energy Star–rated appliances. The clubhouse also is net neutral with electricity because of a solar panel array funded in part with federal solar tax credits.
The $17.6 million development was financed with LIHTC equity provided by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., a U.S. Department of Agriculture Sec. 538 loan through Churchill Stateside Group, a State Housing Initiatives Partnership loan from Citrus County, and a Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta Affordable Housing Program loan through member Florida Community Bank. U.S. Bank was the construction lender.
“This project has given us a strong foundation to move forward and keep doing this for a long time,” says Sol.