Thirty affordable single-family homes will built on the city-owned block where Blount Junior High School once stood, if Pensacola city council members approve a selection committee’s recommendation.
The three-member selection committee, which met Thursday, heavily favored the proposal of Pensacola-based ParsCo, LLC over that of Galveztown, LLC, also based in Pensacola.
ParsCo has proposed restoring the 2.5-acre city block — bounded by Gregory, Chase, C, and D Streets — to its original plat and building 30 two-story, two-bedroom, 1200 sq. ft. houses, with a projected sales price of $199,000. They’re calling the project “The Cottages at Five Points,” after the nearby five-pointed intersection of Garden Street, Barrancas Avenue, and D Street.
The Blount School site has been vacant since 2012, when city officials demolished the former school buildings, which closed in 1982 and were left to deteriorate for nearly three decades. Earlier this year, the city initiated a request for proposal, or RFP, process for the property and invited developers to submit plans.
Selection committee members criticized Galveztown’s proposal — essentially just a three-page offer letter — as lacking compared to ParsCo’s 112-page proposal.
“Because this response to the RFP was only an offer letter, most of the criteria needed to make a recommendation as required by the city was not present,” wrote realtor Nannette Chandler. “Insufficient information in this proposal for much of the criteria,” echoed homebuilder Parry Malone.
“No schedule, no discussion of stormwater amenities, connection to surrounding communities, public involvement plan,” wrote committee member Bonita Player, an engineer. “Very difficult to score — not enough information.”
The three members awarded 252 points to ParsCo’s proposal versus just 70 to Galveztown. The committee’s recommendation will now be presented to the city council for final approval, which could come as soon as the council’s June meeting.
ParsCo president Amir Fooladi said his team is ready to go and plans to schedule multiple community forums to get input from neighborhoods residents as the project gets underway.
“Obviously we’re excited about the committee’s scoring decision,” said Fooladi. “I’m excited to move forward with the city so we can begin this project.”
ParsCo’s development team — which also includes Urban Infill Corporation and Voyage Real Estate — has developed a number of single-family and multi-family projects in the area, including the Old East King Cottages in the city’s Eastside neighborhood and the Summer Vista senior living facility. The company is currently in the process of developing two hotels and another senior living project in Pensacola.
Under the terms of their proposal, ParsCo would pay the city $240,000 for the property, made in installments as the parcels are developed, or a lump sum of $200,000.
With downtown development at a fever pitch, Fooladi says the neighborhoods like the one around the Blount School property will continue to see new investment.
“Obviously the downtown area can’t really expand east, it’s gotta expand west,” Fooladi said. “Everything west of A Street is our next area for growth. As the neighborhood grows, as the Garden Street corridor grows, you’re going to see more and more people moving into the west side of downtown.”
“There’s a lot of history and a lot of great people live in those neighborhoods,” Fooladi added. “I hope this project helps bring the neighborhood back into the spotlight.”
If the selection committee’s recommendation is approved by the city council next month, construction could get underway by November, with completion expected in late spring or early summer of 2019.