Funds are needed to move project further
Key West Senior Planner Kevin Bond brought forward feasible workforce/ affordable housing unit plans at the commission meeting Tuesday. In February, the planning department was directed by city staff in February to look into two properties including Poinciana Plaza (on Duck Avenue in New Town) and Truman Waterfront (End of Southard Street in Old Town).
“If zoning changes the city can build up to 70 units on the 3.2 acres on Truman Waterfront,” said Bond.
Bond said the 3.2 acre land parcel on Truman Waterfront is three different zoning districts not favorable to building but the city can change the zone. The remainder of the 6.6 acres, whose envisioned functions and community support are not provided within Truman Park, is a 3.2-acre parcel at the foot of Petronia Street. It is presently being used for soccer playfields on a temporary basis until larger playfields can be provided at Truman Waterfront Park.
Planning staff recommended changing the land to High Density Residential (HDR) if they wanted to move the project forward. Average unit sizes would be 850 square-feet.
The Poinciana Plaza housing complex has been a reservoir of affordable and workforce housing from the time it was transferred to the City and the Key West Housing Authority in 1998. It has there have been three housing developments on the parcel owned by the City and managed by the Key West Housing Authority —Poinciana Royale (50 units), Kathy’s Hope (16 units) and Casa de Meredith (16 units).
The opportunity to provide additional housing at the site should be an acceptable use within the neighborhood because all of this site, and much of the surrounding area, especially to the West and Northwest also provides affordable housing. The site is adjacent to neighborhood commercial land use, and is close to schools, recreation and major transit routes.
Both of these places can be made into housing theoretically. City Commissioner Clayton Lopez said he is happy to see affordable/workforce housing being looked at in his Bahama Village District and Bond said Poinciana is as good of location as any, but funding is needed to move forward.
“Financing is the most challenging aspect,” Bond said.
Building cost in Key West is $319 a square foot according to Bond. Building only the 70 would cost a conservative estimate of $23 million. City Commissioner Tony Yaniz said Florida Senator Dwight Bullard is moving forward in the legislative process of earmarking funds for affordable housing.
Commissioner Teri Johnston recommended to City Manager Jim Scholl bring somebody aboard to solve the issue of affordable housing full time including finding ways to get funding. He said he is ready to find the right candidate but needs to follow the legislative process in doing so.