Affordable housing might be in Port St. Joe’s future

Paces Foundation

The Panama Commons affordable housing community in Panama City was constructed by Paces and awarded a LEED Platinum status for energy efficiency.

Special to The Star
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 09:28 AM.

The Paces Foundation, which operates out of Smyrna, Ga. went before Port St. Joe city commissioners to present plans to build 50-70 single family apartment homes to create affordable housing in North Port St. Joe.

The need for such housing was spearheaded for months by County Commissioner Tan Smiley and during the Wednesday workshop, Paces President Mark du Mas detailed the plans for a parcel of city-owned land off of Clifford Sims Road.

Paces would pay for the community using a tax credit program that would require the foundation to go to Tallahassee to compete for housing credits. Once awarded, Paces sells those credits to banks in order to fund their communities. After 15 years, ownership of the housing communities reverts to Paces can be sold to residents interested in purchasing their homes. During the 15-year period, the communities can be expanded based on the needs of Port St. Joe.

Paces recently opened the Panama Commons community which received a LEED Platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest housing status in the panhandle, in energy efficiency. The Panama City community is a four-story, family-oriented apartment building that features high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances, close proximity to public transit, and drought-tolerant trees and shrubs and Paces aims to bring these same efficiencies to Port St. Joe.

Ron Thomasson, President of Accrue Planning in Panama City, is a consultant for Paces and has a certification in land use, housing and economic development.

“We can’t do anything without the community’s support,” he said. “There are benefits other than affordable housing.”

Thomasson explained that the land in North Port St. Joe was chosen due to the location being close to the Commerce Park and can act as a gateway as new jobs are created with the opening of the Port.

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