Answered: Where locals want affordable housing, according to our readers

You told us which empty buildings could be converted into affordable housing.

An exterior shot of the Kress Building in downtown Lakeland. A sign on the stone facade reads "S.H. Kress & Co." and a sign on the business below reads "Explorations V Children's Museum."

The Kress Building was a popular choice.

Photo by @nicolefeller_

Table of Contents

Recently, we asked you which vacant office spaces around town you’d recommend be converted to affordable housing. You know, the empty buildings you pass every day on your morning commute and think “that would make a great blank.” As usual, you did not disappoint. Here are the top spots you thought could make hot homes.

The hot spots

109 N. Kentucky Ave., Lakeland, submitted by Kayla E. + Mike L.
This downtown spot is home to the historic Kress Building, which most recently housed the Explorations V Children’s Museum. As of the summer of 2022, its new owners had plans to transform the three-story building into an event venue and office space.

An exterior view of the former Suntrust Bank in Mulberry, FL from the parking lot.

The Suntrust building currently features a drive-thru.

Screenshot via Google Maps

400 N. Church Ave., Mulberry
An anonymous reader suggested the site of a former Suntrust Bank in downtown Mulberry, just south of Lakeland. The 10,629-sqft building is located near several points of interest, like Mulberry City Hall and the Phosphate Museum.

The big picture

In case you missed it, the White House recently released a new plan to convert vacant commercial buildings into residential housing through resources like:

  • Grants: Funding from the government can help cover the costs of land acquisition and construction. For example, the Community Development Block Grant Program provides annual grants to fund housing projects.
  • Land dispositions: Transferring property to local governments, non-profits, and for-profit developers can reduce the cost of affordable housing.
  • Taxes: When transforming office space into housing, systems like plumbing, heating, and cooling typically need replacing. This can be an opportunity to make improvements to energy efficiency — which can be rewarded with tax incentives and credits.

There are more resources than we could possibly list — 20+ programs across multiple agencies. Good thing all the current federal resources are consolidated into this guidebook.

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