The land where the former Carrabelle City Hall building could sprout workforce rental housing for low and middle income families by the fall of 2021, if a proposal now before the city comes to fruition in the months to come.

At their Aug. 1 meeting, city commissioners unanimously approved a motion that would send to planning and zoning a series of changes to ordinances that would lay the groundwork for the possible creation of 30 single-family detached home units on the approximately 9.65 acres at 1001 Gray Ave.

City Attorney Dan Hartman said the changes include the elimination in the zoning, that otherwise allows for residential use by special exception, two footnotes that could be interpreted to restrict the number of homes on site.

P and Z would also be asked to grant “preliminary and conceptual” site plan approval for a proposal by McDowell Housing Partners, a South Florida developer that was recently awarded $5 million in funds from Florida Housing Finance Corporation for the development of 50 single-family units on the former Jordan Bayou site.

Hartman said approval by P and Z, and by the city commission, will put the former City Hall property “in a better position to be sold or used.” He said the change will incentive McDowell to negotiate, but that no harm will come to the city if the two sides can’t reach an agreement.

McDowell is asking the city to sell them the property for no more than $100,000 with the developer responsible for razing the building and removing the debris, which may be a costly job given possible asbestos contamination.

The city is securing appraisals of the property for both the raw land, as well as for the land including the building, which was built to be Carrabelle High School.

One key reason McDowell wants to keep the land acquisition price down is that it will make more attractive their application for a chunk of a recently approved $50 million Rental Recovery Loan program (RRLP) available to 11 Panhandle counties impacted by Hurricane Michael.

McDowell is seeking the maximum $5 million funding, which would come in the form of a soft subordinate loan with a simple interest rate of 1 percent per year. “ These extremely favorable terms and conditions allow McDowell to provide a superior product that will serve as a true asset to the Carrabelle community for many years to come,” said Chris Shear, a managing director McDowell.

Only one development per county may be funded until all eligible applications from all other counties are funded, so the proposed development has an extremely high probability of being awarded funds.

The 30-unit project will not be limited to seniors, but will have income limits for those who wish to rent. Seventy percent of the units, or 21, would be rented to people whose incomes are no more than 60 percent of the county’s adjusted median income, which is in the $42,000 range, so those tenants would earn in the $25,000 range. Another 10 percent of the units, or three, would be rented by those making no more than 40 percent of AMI, or about $17,000. The remaining 20 percent, or six, would not have any restrictions.

Shear said the two-bedroom units would likely rent for $545 per month, and the three-bedrooms $630, to the 40 percent AMI group. For the remaining tenants, the rents would run $817 for a two-bedroom, and $945 for a three-bedroom.

The homes will feature solid surface countertops; plywood cabinets; ceramic and/or luxury vinyl tile flooring; impact windows, full-size energy star appliances including range, refrigerator microwave, and dishwasher; washer/dryer hookups in every unit, and LED lighting throughout. Community amenities will consist of a stand-alone community center with a multipurpose gathering room with kitchenette, media room and computer lab, state of the art fitness center, a large resort-style pool, and children’s playground.

Shear said this housing, like any other housing development, stimulates state and local economies, and jobs are gained through direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts.

“Upon completion, these projects bring new customers for retail businesses, new tax dollars to the city, county and school district, and support permanent jobs to service local residents,” he said. “ Additionally, cost burdened families living in workforce housing have more discretionary income to spend on food, clothing, and other goods and services, thereby boosting the local economy. “

The deadline for applying for this program is Oct. 9, a week after the city commission’s Oct. 3 meeting. Shear is slated to appear at the city’s Sept. 5 meeting.