The South Lake Chamber of Commerce officiate at the Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting

Woodwinds-Clermont celebrated its grand opening on Friday, September 27.

It was only a little over a year ago that city, county and state officials, along with members of the community, gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of Woodwinds, an affordable apartment complex.

New Beginning’s Founder Steve Smith described the lack of affordable housing as being the leading cause of homelessness, which prompted New Beginnings, a not for profit organization, to seek out funds to purchase a 10-acre site, located on South Grand Highway in Clermont.

The project was approved for 19 million dollars of funding from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, as well as funding from the First Housing Development Corp. and Raymond James Tax Credit Funds.

New Beginnings of Central Florida and partner, Blue Sky Communities, a leader in helping non-profit organizations create new affordable housing for their clients, began planning.

Project Architect Jeff Powell and family at Woodwinds groundbreaking.

Woodwind is now a reality! The complex is located on South Grand Highway and Hunt Street, just south of Citrus Tower Blvd. in Clermont. It consists of 24 one-bedroom, 48 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom units. All apartments are equipped with a kitchen, two bathrooms in two and three bedroom units, washer and dryer hook-ups and storage closets. Amenities include a community area, playground, pool, and free parking. Rents will range from $369 to $758.  To qualify, income will range between $12,000 -$30,000 a year.

Woodwinds residents will have access to New Beginnings’ social services, including classes such as financial education, budgeting and career counseling, parenting, wellness, life skills, computer lab, and afterschool activities programs, as well as potential summer programs for children.

Shawn Wilson, president of Blue Sky Communities, attempted to shield the speakers from the high humidity and extreme heat with his trusty umbrella.

Participating in the grand opening ceremony was Founder Steve Smith, City Mayor Gail Ash, Pastor Darrell Church, Shawn Wilson, president of Blue Sky Communities; Jaimie Ross, CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition; and New Beginnings representatives Hilgardt Lamprecht, Guy Bouchard, Stephanie Harris and Jeremy Elliott.

After the grand opening, an Economic Development Thru Workforce Housing Forum was held at the Clermont City Center. Jaimie Ross, the President and CEO of The Florida Housing Coalition, spoke on the Sadowski Act Coalition to ensure funding for Florida’s state and local housing programs.

The panel discussion was led by Moderator Gus Grizzard-ERA Grizzard Realty. Panelist included: Shannon Schmidt, Clermont Director of Economic Development and CRA; Steve Smith, Emeritus President, New Beginnings of Central Fl; Laurel McDonald, president of Carteret Management Co; Stephanie Harris, Executive Director of New Beginnings of Central Florida and Jaimie Ross.