Affordable housing around Florida
Soaring housing costs are a hazard to Florida’s economic growth, leading communities that want to sustain their workforce to respond with new initiatives. Luxury developers to non-profit agencies are stepping up with solutions — both in multifamily properties and individual homes — to address the statewide housing crunch.
- Related Group and Miami-Dade County are spending $500 million to construct 1,900 housing units as they rebuild Depression-era Liberty Square public housing project with a mix of housing for low-income residents and market-rate housing. National attention has focused on the project because of its blend of resident incomes, its structure of using market-rate housing to subsidize affordable and also for giving new life to a property.
- Backed by $10 million from philanthropist and Amazon co-founder Mackenzie Scott, United Way of Broward County created Housing United, a five-year initiative to raise money to develop 2,500 dwelling units and to lobby local governments to change policies to make more housing development possible. According to Florida International University, only 8% of Broward residents can afford to buy a median-price home.
- Tampa-based developer Blue Sky Communities started the second phase of its 164-unit apartment project in Fort Pierce. Completion is scheduled for August. Renter incomes must be from 33% to 60% of area median income. Rental rates will range from $402 to $1,137 per month. Partners in the development include St. Lucie County, Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, Florida Housing Finance Corporation and TD Bank.
- Sarasota’s Housing Authority this year completed the $33.5-million Lofts on Lemon downtown, a development with 128 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. The property includes an indoor gym, stone countertops and washers and dryers in individual units. Rents will be affordable for households with incomes from 30% to 80% of area median income.
- Habitat for Humanity is expected to develop 44 three-story townhouse projects in South St. Petersburg after being recommended by the city to be the developer on an 18th Avenue South site. Mortgages will range from $1,075 to $1,300 per month. Units are reserved for people earning at or below 80% of area median income. Habitat also is building 10 to 12 townhouses on a nearby block with completion scheduled by December 2023.
- Santa Monica, Calif.-based Lincoln Avenue Capital completed its renovation of Valencia Park in Orlando, a 208-unit property with 800 residents. Lincoln purchased it in 2021 and extended its affordability status for 30 years. Lincoln has 35 properties totaling 6,000 units in Florida.
- Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Residential opened Prose Stevens Pointe, a 264-unit “attainable” rental project in St. Cloud. Rents range from $1,649 to $1,957. Prose is Alliance’s workforce housing brand.
- Late last year, TVC Development, part of Jacksonville-based Vestcor, completed the $25.5-million Lofts at Murray Hill, a 117-unit rental property with 10 market-rate units and 107 units reserved for households making less than 70% of area median income. Murray Hill is one of Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhoods. Residents can walk to restaurants, shops and the historic Murray Hill Theatre.
- Tallahassee Lenders Consortium this year finished the first project, a 3-bedroom, 2-bath single-family house, built as part of a Community Land Trust launched in 2019. TLC partnered with Leon County, which donated land within the city, and the city itself, which provided a construction subsidy and down payment assistance. That subsidy, along with taking the price of the land out of the appraised price of the home, took the purchase price down to $184,000. TLC wants to develop eight “paired homes” — a duplex-like arrangement — on county land donated within the city as part of the community land trust.
Art of the Deal: Rent-Free Living While Creating Masterpieces
Miami-based Cymbal DLT made its name developing luxury residences, but it recently started work on a 341-unit apartment complex in Miami Gardens where rents are expected to be roughly half of those in comparable, new buildings in downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Another Dania Beach property it’s developing offers a unique affordable housing effort for one family at no cost.
Earlier this year, the developer set aside one apartment in its waterfront Oasis Pointe Residences in Dania Beach for an artist-in-residence, offering an artist at any stage of his or her career, along with the artist’s family, a furnished place to stay for six months while creating artwork. Ukrainian painter and performance artist Lesia Khomenko is the first to occupy the apartment. Khomenko and her daughter evacuated Kyiv, leaving most of her work behind. Some of her paintings, though, had already made their way to New York galleries, where they are on display.
She is now working on a series of pieces reflecting politics and society before the war in Ukraine and since its outbreak. Residents of the building get to see her creating some of those works in an open studio, but her art also will be on display at the Untitled Art Fair in Miami in late November and at Art Basel in Miami Beach in December. Under the developer’s artist-in-residence program, artists will gift two works to Oasis Pointe’s permanent collection for the development’s common areas.
Cymbal DLT is a partnership between Asi Cymbal of Cymbal Development and Hector Torres of DLT Global. Both developers — who grew up in working-class families in Coney Island and Harlem, respectively — are known for their marquee properties and for working with globally renown architects.
The developers’ Miami Gardens project, just a few blocks from Hard Rock Stadium, will comprise 11, four-story buildings constructed around a lake. “The hope is to attract hardworking people such as hospital staff, nurses, school teachers and police officers who have been priced out of Fort Lauderdale and Miami,” the developers say. Oasis Pointe Residences in Dania Beach — By Vickie Chachere