Affordable housing, and all the furnishings

When the Habitat for Humanity of Key West and Lower Keys ReStore on Big Pine Keys opened in 2004 it quickly became a — excuse the pun — powerhouse. The organization generates funds for Habitat for Humanity to build new homes, it’s a retail center of affordable furnishings for locals, and a way for residents and businesses to earn tax credits via donations of building supplies, furniture, tools and more. 

“Thirty percent of the entire Key West and Lower Keys affiliate’s budget is generated from ReStore sales,” said manager Thomas Greenwood, who has been at the ReStore for the past eight years. “The loss of the ReStore, even temporarily, jeopardizes Habitat’s plans to build an additional 10 workforce family housing units slated for 2017 on Big Coppitt Key.”

And if you think affordable housing is hard to find, imagine trying to relocate a 12,000-square-foot nonprofit facility before Jan. 16, 2017. A petition flanks the register at The ReStore’s location now, urging supporters to contact Monroe County officials for help in finding a fair and equitable way forward so the ReStore can stay open for business.

Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent said its closing is due to safety issues in the structure of the building.

“It looks like it will probably be torn down,” said Neugent, “unless something changes and Habitat can help pick up the costs for repairs.”

The building’s state was revealed in June after an engineering survey. Built in the 1970s, the report estimates the county-owned building — for which Habitat pays an annual $10 lease — needs at least $500,000 in structural repairs, but possibly more.

Neugent referenced upcoming talks with Publix Super Market about a possible store on Big Pine Key, the third time the corporation has expressed such interest. “Things could develop from this situation and Habitat is being included in all of the discussions for solutions,” he said.

“This store is such an asset to the community that speaks to the color and flair of our island communities,” said Greenwood. “I hope we can find help before our leave/vacate date.”



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