Interstate 275 (FDOT VII) - Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida
209 acquisition, 172 residential relocation and 23 business relocation project for the expansion of Interstate 275 from Himes Avenue to the Hillsborough River. I-275 is the expressway through metropolitan Tampa Bay that connects the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa. The parcels consist of urban residential and vacant properties with commercial and industrial parcels intertwined. Responsibilities include title update, negotiations, relocation, closings, suit preparation, and property management all done in conformance to 49 Code Federal Regulations Part 24 / The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisitition Policies Act of 1970, as amended.
The I-275 improvement project was part of several major interstate projects that would occur concurrently over a decade. Even though this particular project was completed five months ahead of schedule, there were several hurdles that had to be overcome so that AAG could comply with the FDOT certification date:
The lack of availability of single-family homes for rent in the subject neighborhood. The limited number of single-family rentals was primarily due to a "tight" real estate market which was compounded by the other concurrent projects causing competition for rental housing resources. The limited supply of rental homes led to increased rents that resulted in a considerable number of "Last Resort Housing" calculations. AAG was able to secure replacement housing in this tight market through negotiations and personal contact information with realtors and landlords in the area. Considering the active market at the time of this project, all calculations needed to be approved in a timely fashion to maintain the availability of comparables found. This meant AAG’s calculations needed to be correct and compliant the first time to meet these time constraints and evidence of this is given in our grade and in meeting our schedule in advance of the certification date.
Additional challenges included the ability to communicate with displacees who spoke various languages other than English and to assure that they were provided with the advisory services necessary to understand their rights and responsibilities under the Uniform Act. AAG was able to overcome these barriers through constant advisory services above and beyond what is required and through the assistance of interpreters associated with the firm in the area.
Many homeowners raised concern over the prospect of their property taxes increasing as a result of being forced to relocate. While a 3% Save Our Homes cap that limits the increase in the annual assessment of homestead properties in Florida was now a part of our state constitution, a new effort began to allow homestead property owners to transfer this tax savings to new homes in situations where they are forced to move as a result of eminent domain. This provided additional consideration in our negotiations and relocation assistance.