Florida Terrace

Concept plans for Rush Homes' $8.4 million Florida Terrace project calls for the construction of two new apartment buildings with 24 units. 

A new affordable housing complex is coming to Florida Avenue.

Rush Homes, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing to low-income residents and those with disabilities, is moving forward with plans to construct 48 apartments at 2117 Florida Ave. after Lynchburg City Council unanimously voted to approve the project last week.

Dubbed Florida Terrace, the project is estimated to cost about $8.4 million and will sit about a quarter mile from Campbell Avenue and less than a quarter mile from a grocery store and shopping center. 

“I think we would have had to look long and hard to find a better location for this housing project,” said Bill Berkley, an engineer working on the project. “It's right next to a shopping center; people can walk to services. The bus stop is literally 40 feet away.”

The project is being built in partnership with the Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which helped Rush Homes select the plot of land, which is more than 3 acres, from among ten total potential sites in the city. A timeline for construction has not been publicly released. 

Of the 48 apartments contained in two buildings, 13 will be designated for families with disabilities, five for tenants with developmental disabilities and seven for families exiting homelessness. The remaining apartments will be set aside to serve the general low-income population, according to planning documents.

In addition to the twin apartment buildings, the site plans call for the construction of 43 parking spaces and a single-story detached building which will house a community room and a rental office.

The project is funded, in part, by low-income housing tax credits, local and state funds set aside for affordable housing developments and a handful of other sources, according to Jeff Smith, the executive director of Rush Homes.

When the complex is completed, the project will be Rush Homes’ 15th property in Lynchburg and Madison Heights. The organization’s last project — a $6 million dollar housing complex with 28 apartments on Old Forest Road — was completed in late 2018.

Like other Rush Homes properties, Florida Terrace will largely serve the elderly population. According to Smith, the average tenant is between 55 and 60 years old.   

City council’s vote came a little more than a month after the Lynchburg Planning Commission unanimously recommended Rush Homes be granted a conditional use permit to build the complex.

Despite winning wide support among city officials, the project faced pushback from a handful of city residents who argued in a public hearing the complex would increase automobile traffic in the area and would eventually be allowed to fall into disarray by the property managers.

In response, Smith and other Rush Homes officials said many of their residents do not own cars and rely on public transit to get around the city. They also pledged to devote significant resources to the complex, including on-site staffing to assist residents.

“I want this to be right because I live in Lynchburg. I'm going to run into these people,” Smith said. “[It's] important to me that this works for our community all the way around. So, we will be the property managers we’ve always been.”

Ward IV Councilman Turner Perrow, who also serves on the planning commission and housing authority board, said he is confident the project will prove to be successful and will ultimately help alleviate the city’s shortage of affordable housing.

“If this turns into a bad area, we’ll pull the [permit] in a heartbeat,” Perrow said. “It needs to be a good project. This neighborhood needs a quality place for seniors to live in, seniors ... that want to stay in a community they’ve lived in their whole life.”

Richard Chumney covers Liberty University for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5547.

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