Casa di Francesco affordable housing breaks ground in Seffner.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 19, 2023, for the Casa di Francesco housing complex at 4450 Mango Rd. in Seffner, adjacent to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. When completed, the $42M 4-story project will contain 140 rental apartment homes featuring 100 one-bedroom units and 40 two-bedroom units designed exclusively for seniors 62 years old and older. Hillsborough County Commissioners Ken Hagan, Harry Cohen and Gwen Myers all attended the prestigious event.

Amenities will include a clubhouse with an exercise room, library, walking trail, craft room, community garden and picnic area. Units will be first come, first served, and a waiting list is live on the development’s website. No application or rental information will be available before fall 2024.

Since taking over as pastor in 2017, the Rev. Edison Bernavas noticed the need for affordable housing during his time spent with the elderly. Through discussions with parishioners, Bernavas learned he shared the same desire to develop senior housing on part of the sprawling 20-arce parcel owned by the church, as did the church’s founding pastor, Christopher Fitzgerald.

Bernavas explored many options before deciding to work with Blue Sky Communities, which had been discussing affordable housing options on church property with the diocese. The agreement to build the project on church land was decided upon just prior to the pandemic.

Bernavas told the large crowd in attendance, “Having worked hard all of their lives, [many] still don’t have access to decent housing, so I think it is our Christian duty to take care of our elderly. It is our commitment as a parish to help seniors to decent housing, and these 140 apartments are a solid step towards reaching that goal. When it was time to find a developer who could make this dream a reality, we began meeting with various companies and decided upon Mr. Shawn [Wilson] and Blue Sky Communities.”

Developed by Blue Sky Communities, a leading affordable housing development company committed to creating safe, quality communities for its residents, the project is expected to be completed by early 2025. Hillsborough County helped provide $6.1 million in funding for the project. The project also received $4.3 million from the recently enacted Florida affordable housing legislation dubbed the Live Local Act and is thought to be one of the first projects in Hillsborough County to receive funding from the act. Blue Sky currently has 31 affordable housing projects in Florida with eight of these in Hillsborough County.

“We have two other affordable housing projects coming to the area, one is named The Loop and will have 77 units available and the other Lake Bluetail which will have 120 units” said Shawn Wilson, President and CEO of Blue Sky Communities.

The Loop, on the northwest corner of Town Center Boulevard and Gornto Lake Road near the Westfield Brandon mall, has received an award of HOPE funds from Hillsborough County. Plans show a mix of units with 39 one-bed one-bath, 26 two-bed two-bath and 12 three-bed two-bath units. The 120-unit Lake Bluetail project on Bloomingdale Avenue will be located west of Providence Road, adjacent to the currently under-construction 352-unit Summerall Luxury Apartments complex by Blue Sky’s sister company, 2nd Wave Development. Amenities planned for Lake Bluetail include a clubhouse with a pool, child’s play area and pickleball court.

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Brian Bokor
Brian Bokor has lived in the Valrico area since 1997 and started writing freelance for The Osprey Observer in 2019. Brian (appraiser) and his wife, Sharon (broker), run a local real estate company (Bokors Corner Realty) as well as manage the Facebook page Bokors Corner, which highlights local-area commercial and residential development.