an aerial view of a construction site in a residential area

First announced more than two years ago, the Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys’ (HfHUK) Gardenia development is almost finished. 

The affordable-housing complex, located at 292 Gardenia St. on Plantation Key, consists of eight three-bedroom, two-bathroom units. It will be HfHUK’s second-largest development, behind a 16-unit Windley Key property. 

Announced in 2021 following an RFQ process with the Village of Islamorada, the project has undergone several major changes from its initial plans. 

“We removed the ninth unit that was the duplex at the northeast side of the project,” said Lindsay Fast, Habitat’s executive director. “It was forcing our hand with a condominium association, which drives up the cost for our homeowners. The duplex unit was replaced with a single-family home in an effort to keep their monthly maintenance fee lower with a ‘fee simple’ homeowner association.”

Habitat volunteers are adding finishing touches to the four homes on the north side of the project, including ceiling fans, closets and fresh coats of paint. Steady progress is also being made on the project’s south side, with drywall currently being installed to those four units. 

a bird's eye view of a house with many roofs
Gardenia units located next to Plantation Key School in Islamorada. MICHAEL KANIK/ High Exposure Visuals.

The Gardenia property is especially significant for its location within the Plantation Key Colony neighborhood, providing an easy commute to Coral Shores High School and Plantation Key School. 

Of the nine homes, Fast said four are still available. The next application window for the  remaining available homes will open on Aug. 1. Applicants are chosen based on the need for housing, their willingness to partner with Habitat and their ability to pay.

Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys, a nonprofit, volunteer-based housing organization serving Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada, seeks to sell affordable housing to those in need, with no profit or interest charged. 

Habitat offers weekly volunteer opportunities during Saturdays in the summer.  

“It’s amazing to see the community spirit we’re seeing each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as volunteers gather to lend a helping hand with these final details,” Fast said. “If you haven’t joined us yet, we extend a warm invitation to come by and be part of this experience.” 

Zack Woltanski
Zack Woltanski is a Coral Shores grad and aspiring novelist. After three years of high school and a gap year in Germany, he will be studying at Brown University, with a potential major in english or philosophy.