Tallahassee Democrat: “Independence Landing signs lease with city for Southwood property”

Allison Tant’s dream to build a community for people with disabilities to live has come a step closer to reality.

Tant, chair of Independence landing Inc., signed a 60-year lease with the city of Tallahassee Monday for city property in Southwood that had been reserved for a regional park. Independence Landing will pay $10 a year for the 20-acre site.

“Writing the check out, I thought, ‘I can’t believe this.’ It’s exciting,” Tant said.

Tant wants to develop an upscale yet affordable planned housing development complete with amenities like a community center for 50-70 people with developmental disabilities. To be eligible to apply for state housing money for the project, Tant had to secure control of the property first. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation expects a 50-year commitment from applicants.

“I don’t want to own the land if the thing goes south,” she said.

The property was originally part of a 62-acre lot zoned for recreation. Independence Landing got approvals from the County Commission, City Commission and planning commission to change the zoning to medium density residential to allow for construction of a residential community for adults with a variety of disabilities.

The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation is planning to develop the remaining 42 acres into a regional park.

The Tampa-based Southport Financial Services will develop the site.

So far, the organization has raised about $350,000 for the project, she said. Part of that money was raised through A Community Thrives, a nationwide contest sponsored by the USA TODAY Network. Independence Landing received $25,000 grant by raising more than any other charity participating in the contest. 

“This is kind of surreal and exciting. I am so grateful to the community for all their support,” Tant said. 

The next step for Tant will be to attend a Florida Housing workshop in January and apply for a grant.

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