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Pinellas County Schools selects Tomlinson Community Partners to develop teacher and staff housing

June 8, 2023

Rendering of teh tomlinson property development

Renderings provided by Tomlinson Community Partners

Pinellas County Schools has chosen Tomlinson Community Partners (TCP) to develop the historic 99-year-old Tomlinson building located in the Mirror Lake District of St. Petersburg. This strategic partnership addresses the need for attainable workforce housing for teachers and district employees.

“The innovative and collaborative approach of the Tomlinson Community Partners aligns with Pinellas County Schools’ goal to support the housing needs of our dedicated educators and employees,” said Kevin Hendrick, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. “To attract and retain the best teachers and district employees, we must proactively provide accessible and appealing housing choices.” 

The proposed project by Tomlinson Community Partners includes 225 residential units with 113 units designated as workforce housing for teachers and district employees. These units will cater to individuals earning 90% to 120% of the local area median income (AMI), ensuring affordability. The estimated monthly rent will range between $1,263 and $2,160, offering studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. The remaining 112 units will be available to the public at market value, with rental prices ranging from $2,156 to $ 2,771 monthly. 

In addition to the housing units, TCP is committed to providing PCS teachers and staff free access to various amenities, including a common area for teachers, a gym, and parking. The projected completion date for this project is July 2026. Pinellas County Schools will retain ownership of the property through a lease agreement. 

Pinellas County Schools and Tomlinson Community Partners will work closely to develop a comprehensive plan and timeline, which will be presented to the Pinellas County School Board for approval in the coming months. 

TCP consists of the joint venture between Dantes Partners and the development team of Goshen + Cornerstone. Buwa Binitie, the founder and CEO of Dantes Partners, is grateful and excited for the opportunity to contribute to the vibrant and growing community of St. Petersburg.

“Being chosen to redevelop the historic Tomlinson building is a responsibility we do not take lightly. It is our sincere hope that this development will not only meet the immediate housing needs but also foster a more integrated inclusive community that supports the success of all its residents,” Binitie said. Dantes Partners is also part of the team St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch selected to redevelop the Historic Gas Plant District site.

Dantes Partners will work with Alexander Goshen, led by Miles Alexander III, and Cornerstone Strategic Partners, led by Leonard Buke. Binitie added, “The two firms embody deep local knowledge and a shared vision for equitable housing.”

“Together, Pinellas County Schools and Tomlinson Community Partners are committed to creating a space that also honors the building’s rich history,” said Clint Herbic, Chief Operations Officer of Pinellas County.

The Tomlinson building opened in 1924 as St. Petersburg Junior High and became a vocational school in 1931. In 1935 the school was named the Edwin H. Tomlinson Vocational School after one of St. Petersburg’s well-known benefactors. In 1978 the school was renamed the Tomlinson Adult Learning Center, which it remained until closing in December of 2021 due to various financial reasons, including declining enrollment. 

Pinellas County Schools issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in November 2022, seeking equitable public-private collaborations to develop the Tomlinson site. The district received four proposals. The project goals set by Pinellas County Schools included addressing the workforce housing shortage for teachers and employees, optimizing the use of the Tomlinson building, and preserving its historical significance. The district’s goals also included engaging with experienced partners in real estate, workforce housing, financing, construction, operation, and maintenance. The Tomlinson Community Partners meet these project goals and guiding principles.

Tomlinson Property renderingTomlinson Property rendering