ISLAMORADA OFFICIALS SEEK WORKSHOP TO DISCUSS A USE FOR TWO VILLAGE-OWNED PROPERTIES

an aerial view of a building under construction
The Island Silver & Spice property in 2022. The building has since been demolished and the property is being used by contractors for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. DAVID GROSS/Keys Weekly

Islamorada’s portfolio of properties increased with the village council’s approval last month to acquire the Island Community Church building for nearly $4 million. With other village lands awaiting a plan for development or use, Village Manager Rob Cole believes a workshop is necessary before any decision-making at the council level.

After voting 3-1 to buy the church property for $3.995 million during a May 9 meeting, the council tasked Cole and staff to evaluate the former Island Silver & Spice property at MM 81.9 and the Machado properties at MM 88.6. In 2021, the council bought the Machado parcels for $1.8 million and the Silver & Spice property for $2.75 million. Cole said a workshop would allow the village to get a pulse from the people on what should be done at the two sites. 

“We can then return to the conversation and begin to advance something like an RFQ (request for qualifications) that would solicit proposals from partners who would help us to do whatever we might envision on those sites,” Cole said. 

The Island Silver & Spice property is now housing equipment and a trailer for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority’s contractors who are installing new water lines on Windley Key. Per a lease, FKAA contractors have the site through 2025.

At the time of the Island Silver & Spice purchase, there were different viewpoints for the property, ranging from a public open space to a recreational amenity like a Ferris wheel. Cole said the site could also house a mixed-use structure with commercial activity on the bottom floor and workforce housing on top. There was also a suggestion to install a green parking lot with landscaping and vehicle chargers.

“Maybe we can blend all those elements into a site that promotes affordable housing, maintains our commitment and financial feasibility of the project by implementing commercial space. But we don’t know which path we have full support in doing,” Cole said. 

As for the Machado properties, Cole told council members the village could look into unifying the lots to construct workforce housing on two of the lots which are least valuable from a conservation perspective. 

“You could conceivably get more units on the two lots than if they were separate ones. And at the same time, it permanently protects the hammock on a good portion of that property,” he said. “That’s a really exciting site and may be something we want to pursue. But then again at the workshop, maybe something else will come up.”

Council members gave Cole the go-ahead to plan a future workshop to discuss the two properties.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures in Western New York. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 5-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club. When he's not working, he's busy chasing his son, Lucas, around the house and enjoying time with family.