Jax Re-Evaluates Support For Company Connected To Rodent-Infested Housing

Jul 27, 2021


Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration said Monday it is “re-evaluating” its support of a company that has ownership and management ties to the troubled Hilltop Village Apartments. 

The city previously backed the company for a successful bid to receive $18.67 million in state tax credits, and the Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority gave the company, Southport Financial Services Inc., $120,000 last year to build affordable housing.

Hilltop residents are struggling with a rodent infestation first reported by WJCT News partner News4Jax

The subsidized housing complex is owned by SP Hilltop Village LP and managed by Cambridge Management, Inc. Both are tied to Southport, which is receiving federal, state and local tax dollars to build another affordable housing complex in Jacksonville. 

What is Southport Financial Services?

Southport Financial Services is a housing company based in Tampa that has 214 properties across 20 states. The company’s website lists seven properties in Jacksonville.

The company expects to break ground on a 122-unit Downtown complex at 901 N. Main St. by the end of the year, according to WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record.

For the project, Southport is receiving $500,000 from the HUD HOME Investment Partnerships Program and $120,000 from the Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority. The project was also awarded $18.67 million in tax credits by the Florida Housing Finance Corp, to be given in annual installments of $1,868,000. 

According to the Daily Record, Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority financial adviser Mark Hendrickson said Sourthport was selected for the tax credits because it was designated by the city of Jacksonville as the “priority deal” for the FHFC’s 2020 application cycle.

Southport has also received previous FHFC's tax credits in the amount of $70,282,594 for other projects, FHFC spokeswoman Taylore Maxey confirmed. When asked whether the Hilltop situation would affect FHFC’s willingness to provide tax credits to Southport in the future, she responded: “ Florida Housing’s role is to provide safe, decent long-term housing solutions in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations for the citizens of Florida.

Southport’s Ties to Hilltop

Hilltop Village Apartments owner SP Hilltop Village LP is a limited partnership registered in Florida

According to state business records, SP Hilltop’s general partner is SP Hilltop Village GP Inc. Hilltop Inc. 's only listed officer is J. David Page. He is also the lead officer for Southport Financial Services Inc.

The ties between SP Hilltop and Southport continue: 

  • Both companies have the same principal address: 5403 W. Gray St. in Tampa
  • Both companies have the same mailing address: 2430 Estancia Blvd., Suite 114, in Clearwater
  • A Washington-based company, Trustee and Corporate Services Inc., is the registered agent for both companies.
  • David Cantu, president of Trustee and Corporate Services, is listed as a registered agent on SP Hilltop’s 2011 incorporation document, as well as Southport’s annual reports since 2004.

Cambridge Management, Inc. Is Also Connected

A June 28 letter from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary identified the company that manages Hilltop Village Apartments as Washington-based Cambridge Management, Inc. 

The letter said seven other Florida properties managed by Cambridge also failed their latest inspections. All seven also appear connected to Southport, with the same principal and mailing address. And Southport officers J. David Page and Stephen W. Page are the only officers listed for those properties’ management companies. 

Stephen W. Page is also Cambridge’s chairman, and Cambridge has the same mailing address as all eight properties.

Jacksonville’s Response

When WJCT News first emailed the city to request interviews with officials about Hilltop, a city spokesperson initially responded that because Hilltop is federally subsidized housing, the city “(does) not have any connection to the management or funding of this property.”

The response changed after WJCT News pointed out Southport’s connection to the property.

The city said on Monday said Mayor Curry’s administration had met with Southport representatives. Additionally, the city is reviewing the progress of Hilltop’s repairs and remediation. Part of that review will include “re-evaluating the level of support that was committed to Southport in September 2020.”

Sen. Marco Rubio and JHFA financial adviser Mark Hendrickson did not respond to several interview requests by the time of this story's publication. 

WJCT News has also left messages at Southport’s offices but did not receive a response by this story’s publication. This story will be updated if additional responses are received.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Taylore Maxey as a spokesperson for the JFHA. She is a spokesperson for the Florida Housing Finance Corp. 

Tristan Wood can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @TristanDWood.