Old City Homes At The Center Of Affordable Housing Solutions

An incentive for developers to designate nearly half of the homes they build as “workforce housing” in exchange for density bonuses has moved one step forward in St. Johns County.

On Feb. 20, the county’s Planning & Zoning Board voted unanimously in favor of an amendment to the county’s Land Development Code and Comprehensive Plan. It will then be taken up by the County Commission at a public hearing April 7.

Under the proposed policy change, if a residential developer builds 40% of a project’s units to be priced at $210,000 or less, the developer is allowed to build at a greater density in what would be called “Workforce Housing Zoning,” bypassing a Planned Unit Development application.

If approved, the current density allowance would increase from two units per acre to six units per acre and also relax some design standards. That would allow developers to offset any revenue lost in lower sales prices on some units.

And to make them profitable, it’s anticipated many of the projects under Workforce Housing Zoning will be multi-family duplexes or townhomes constructed by larger companies.

The kinds of developments that would qualify under the new zoning category would include KB Homes’ Orchard Park, currently under construction off Wildwood Drive. The project encompasses 300 townhomes, with an 1,168-square-foot model starting at $191,990.

The target market for this kind of housing would be dual-income households bringing in about $65,000 annually. That’s the type of development the new zoning would encourage.

Jerry Folckemer, owner of Old City Homes, has made a niche business out of catering to the workforce housing market, particularly in Hastings and West Augustine.

Most of the single-family units he builds — from 800 to 1,000 square feet — go for between $175,000 and $200,000 and include modern touches like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

“We are able to do the pricing we have because we do high volume,” Folckemer said.

“As soon as we put the [for sale] signs out,” Folckemer said, “we’re getting calls immediately, so the demand is absolutely there.

FULL STORY: St. Augustine Record

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