Affordable housing in Lake County out of reach despite booming market

LEESBURG – “We are in desperate need of housing for the workforce,” Leesburg City Commissioner Dan Robuck III said at a meeting last month when discussing a development project .

Development plans in South Leesburg call for 481 homes on 148 acres, or about three units per acre. Hanover Land Co. said the homes would sell for between $ 250,000 and $ 300,000. Buyers would need $ 60,000 in pre-tax income.

However, the US Census Bureau last July reported that Lake County’s per capita income was $ 28,348 and the median household income was $ 54,513.

Meanwhile, the scramble for homes has pushed the median selling price up 12.4%, from $ 258,000 to $ 290,000 since last May, according to Florida Realtors. The average selling price is $ 331,093, up 16.9% from last year.

This exacerbates the current housing shortage for the workforce in Lake County. Amid the market boom, many potential local buyers have not been able to compete with the northerners who sell their homes and come to the South with a fist full of cash.

“A house on Long Island could sell for $ 1 million,” said Adam Edgington of Leading Edge Building in Clermont.

“We see a lot of madness”:Why are Lake County homes selling so fast?

More coverage:The real estate market is hot, even in Lake County. When will this end?

“Where are they going to live? “

Greg Beliveau has been preaching the affordable housing gospel for some time.

And the owner of LPG Urban and Regional Planners Inc., doesn’t mean subsidized or low-rent housing when he uses the term.

He talks about the need for homes for teachers, police and firefighters.

“Where are they going to live? he asks.

Another aspect of the workforce housing problem: Millennials are buying houses.

Béliveau takes the pulse of millennials, who are leaving their beloved urban spaces.

“They’re getting married, and guess what?” They get pregnant, “he said.” They want more space. “

Like the 55+ crowd, they love communities with amenities, like pools, parks, playgrounds, and trails – not golf cart trails – but places to walk, bike and ride. push strollers.

“They don’t have Mom and Dad’s house – too big, and they don’t want debt. That’s why you see mixed-use projects, with 40 foot lots and villas (townhouses).

This past October, Bentley Ridge, the city’s latest townhouse development, threw the welcome mat.

The development includes 21 multi-family apartment buildings and 104 townhouses along a compact, hilly area on Teagan Way just off US Highway 441. The gated community offers units in two or three bedroom configurations with approximately 2 bedrooms. 000 square feet. Each house also includes a backyard. A club house with swimming pool and gym is located near the entrance. Prices are set in the middle of $ 200,000.

But higher density projects are not suitable for neighbors, including the Hanover Resort project. They live on expanses of five acres and enjoy the rural way of life.

Around the house:The housing crisis is a problem but one that will not be easily solved

To buy a house ? Don’t overlook these hidden costs when rushing to buy a home in a hot market

After:Leesburg hosts Bentley Ridge townhouse development

What comes down the pike

The development of Hanover may only be the beginning.

Investors from Dubai have teamed up with an Orlando developer to plan a 3,000-home development south of County Road 48 and east of US Highway 27 for $ 1.6 billion. Neighbors said they felt like they were “overrun”.

Neighbors of an affordable 546-unit residential development on 165 acres behind the Highland Lakes retirement community are also angry.

The fathers of the town of Leesburg, including Robuck, whose family owns Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, ensured growth along the US Highway 27 corridor by approving developments and utilities south of the old boundaries from the city.

The city also sold 1,100 acres to The Villages at County Road 470 and Florida’s Turnpike.

How do schools take into account

The people who work for The Villages will need a place to live, officials say, as will the people who will work in the Amazon and Kroger fulfillment centers.

One of the things that domestic companies look for when locating in an area is housing for their workers. The quality of schools is another.

This is why Reggie Thomas, a resident of Dewey Robbins, called the Hanover project “ridiculous” at the recent town council meeting.

“You already have issues with the school system, a lot of issues, not so much overcrowding, but performance,” the Maryland retiree said.

Former Leesburg City Commissioner Bob Bone acknowledged the problem in 2018.

“We are hurting ourselves if we cannot put out the fires in our schools,” he said.

Then-commissioner Jay Hurley was not unfriendly, but noted that the Lake County School Board had a budget of $ 500 million, compared to the city’s $ 168 million.

“If they (school board members) can’t do the job, then they should be unelected,” he said.

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