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After Pandemic Delay, Orange Ave. Apartment Redevelopment Gets Underway

An updated rendering of the soon-to-be revamped Orange Avenue Apartment Complex
Tallahassee Housing Authority
An updated rendering of the soon-to-be revamped Orange Avenue Apartment Complex

The planned re-development of Orange Avenue Apartments is again moving after a year-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the recent allocation of new money to complete construction of the housing units.

The Tallahassee Housing Authority announced Wednesday its received funding from the state for the second phase of the project and will begin moving residents so that the complex can be torn down and rebuilt. The new incarnation will include 290 apartments with 200 slated for low-income housing. That replaces the 200 current units on the property.

Teh revamped Orange Avenue Apartments will also feature income-based and market rate units for families and seniors. Green space, walking paths, a leasing, fitness center and community room will also be on site. Demo was initially slated to begin in April but was delayed until the fall due to the pandemic. Residents will begin to move out in June and those moving expenses will be paid, said Brenda Williams, Executive Director of the Tallahassee Housing Authority.

“One option will be to move to another public housing apartment," she said. "The second option is to receive a housing choice voucher to move to a neighborhood of their choice."

Williams said some of the city’s student housing complexes have reached out to her about offering apartments to dislocated residents.

The pandemic hasn’t just delayed the start of the project, its also driven up costs. Ray Kuniansky, Chief Development Officer with the developer, Columbia Residential, noted lumber costs for the project have increased by $2 million since 2019, when the project was first submitted for approval.

“It’s a rough set of circumstances," he said. "This has been probably the most significant change in cost structure I've seen in 15 years."

To stay on budget, the developer is looking for additional funding and exploring other materials and building techniques. Kuniansky said the increase in materials won’t impact the project’s scope. Bidding is already underway for construction companies and vendors and the city expects to use a number of local businesses.

The Office of Economic Vitality expects the redevelopment to generate nearly $100 million in local economic impact. And lead to 767 temporary construction jobs. The first apartments should be ready for new and returning tenants by 2023.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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