Affordable Housing Project Breaks Ground in West Augustine

Affordable Housing Project Breaks Ground in West Augustine

The dream of home ownership got a little closer for nearly 100 families in St. Johns County with groundbreaking ceremonies for the Villages of New Augustine. The project is the result of a partnership between Ability Housing, the West Augustine Historical Community Redevelopment Corp., Bank of America, Churchill Stateside Group and St. Johns County, according to a media release.

The 92-unit, new-construction apartment community will be located on three parcels totaling approximately 6.5 acres at the intersection of North Volusia Street and Chapin Street in the West Augustine neighborhood. All units will be affordable to households earning up to 60% of the Area Median Income, based on data updated annually by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Rental prices will vary based on household size, income, and apartment size, and will start at approximately $547 minimum per month for one-bedroom units and $759 minimum per month for three-bedroom units. Actual rent prices will be contingent on current HUD data at the time of the apartment community’s completion, the release states.

The groundbreaking is the culmination of efforts that began in 2018 when Ability Housing was approached by the West Augustine CDC to build an apartment community in the neighborhood. The Villages of West Augustine marks the first community to be developed by Ability Housing in the city of St. Augustine.

“Today’s groundbreaking has been several years in the making,” said Shannon Nazworth, President and CEO of Ability Housing, in the release. “Ability Housing is proud to partner with the neighborhood, helping bring their vision for their community to reality. And we are excited to be part of the solution for affordable housing in St Johns County.”

Site plans feature four three-story residential buildings comprising 20 one-bedroom apartments, 36 two-bedroom apartments and 36 three-bedroom apartments. Additional amenities will include a community center with on-site leasing offices; a computer lab; a library; flexible spaces for workshops, training and events; outdoor recreational features like a pavilion and dedicated walking trail; and 149 parking spaces, according to the media release.

Funding for the $25 million project comes through various state, local and private sources. Florida Housing Finance Corporation provided $4,265,345 in affordable housing loan financing and awarded $1.625 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which resulted in a $14,867,263 equity investment from a nonprofit syndicator, National Equity Fund, with Bank of America providing the equity investment. Bank of America is also providing a construction loan in the amount of $13,814,121. Churchill Stateside Group will provide the post-construction permanent financing with a $4,145,000 mortgage.

The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners approved a $460,000 Affordable Housing Grant and a $1,207,134 award of American Rescue Plan Act funds this past June. In 2022 the Commission passed an ordinance making it possible to defer impact fees. 

“The Villages of New Augustine, like the County’s other affordable housing efforts, is much more than just bricks and mortar to build housing,” said Commission Chair Sarah Arnold, in the release. “This is about building a better quality of life for those in need of a place to call their own – a place to call their home. This kind of project builds a stronger community and more connected neighborhoods for all of us.”

The project is expected to be completed in late 2025.