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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017
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Downtown workers' complex opens to full occupancy

TAMPA - The city's first "workforce" apartment complex is fully leased and will be completely occupied by the end of March. Metro 510 started leasing its 120 units in October. Last week, filled to the brim with current and prospective tenants, the complex at 510 E. Harrison St. started a waiting list. The list already has 10 names. "I couldn't be happier how that turned out," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said.
Metro 510 is the first downtown complex designed to rent at affordable rates for people who work in the service industry. Monthly rents are on a sliding scale based on income, starting at $588 for a one-bedroom, increasing to $701 for a two-bedroom and $808 for a three-bedroom. The maximum salary allowed for a single person interested in moving into a one-bedroom apartment is $23,760. The maximum salary allowed for a family of six is $39,360. "It's a huge amenity and asset for downtown Tampa – for the employers that now have their workers within a 25-cent trolley ride or a walk or bike ride," said Debra Koehler, owner of Sage Partners, the project's development company. Koehler has been pleased with the occupancy speed. "It's been very fast," she said. "It could have been faster, but we put our credit score pretty high." Average age for renters is the early 30s. "Eighty percent of them work downtown, and they work in the service industry," Koehler said. Many tenants work for restaurants; others work in the hairstyling, banking or legal fields. The speed with which the complex filled up shows the demand for affordable housing downtown, Buckhorn said. "The further out they live, the less attractive downtown is to them as a workplace opportunity," he said. The complex's loft-style apartments offer barn oak floors, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, granite counter tops in kitchens and bathrooms and brushed-nickel ceiling fans. Residents can enjoy two court yards, including one at ground level with a spray park. An outdoor movie theater area is available. Residents will have a vertical community garden to plant fruits and vegetables. The historic-but-now-defunct St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church is also part of the project. It turned into the Metro 510 Life Center, a communal two-story space that brings together tenants and surrounding neighbors, including residents of Vista 400, a senior-complex formerly known as Methodist Place Apartments. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., baseball legend Jackie Robinson and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall once stood in the former sanctuary, which was completed in 1914. jpoltilove@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7691

Information from Tribune archives was used in this report.

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