City commissioners on Nov. 16 took a giant step toward building workforce housing on the last 3.2 acres of the Truman Waterfront. The commission approved the rankings of firms that had submitted proposals for the housing, and upheld the ranking committee’s top choice of a joint venture called Lofts of Bahama Village that is composed of several businesses and organizations, including The Vestcor Companies/TVC Development Inc., Charley Toppino & Sons Inc., A.H. of Monroe County Inc., Smith Hawks law firm, PQH Group Design Inc., Marino Construction Group Inc., and Mike Flaugh Landscape Architect. 

The team’s proposal states, “The team, led by Vestcor, will transform the vacant 3.2 acre

parcel into 118 residential units and 9,000 square feet of commercial space.”

The second ranked proposer is Bahama Village at Fort Street 3.2 LLC, which is composed of Rural Neighborhoods Inc., Habitat for Humanity of Key West and Lower Florida Keys Inc., and Lower Keys Community Center Corp. Their proposal would include 108 residential units, the agenda states.

Commissioners voted 5 to 2 to uphold the ranking committee’s recommendation. Mayor Teri Johnston and Commissioner Clayton Lopez opposed and were in favor of the second-ranked group.

But Lopez emphasized that the overall project is a great thing for the people of Bahama Village.

Several residents spoke before the vote, and urged the commissioners to move forward with the housing that will give preference to Bahama Village residents, but will not be exclusively for them, Lopez told the Keys Weekly.

The commissioners also took action on a neighboring parcel at the waterfront, the old Diesel Plant. The Rams Head Group had proposed a museum, restaurant and meeting space for the historic site, but the commission ultimately voted to issue a Request for Proposals for the property the city received from Keys Energy Services that requires extensive environmental cleanup.

Last but not least, Key West may finally have found an attorney to help draft and defend new cruise ship ordinances that will drastically reduce the number of ships that visit Key West.

Local lawmakers on Nov. 16 authorized City Attorney Shawn Smith to negotiate representation by Ed Pozzuoli of the Tripp Scott Law Firm. Smith said Pozzuoli comes “highly, highly recommended and is supported by the Safer Cleaner Ships committee.”

In a letter to the commissioners, Evan Haskell of Safer Cleaner Ships wrote, “The City Attorney has assured me that our team may provide Mr. Pozzuoli with relevant materials from our legal research regarding potential cruise ship legislation, and has committed to arrange a meeting with our committee and Mr. Pozzuoli. … We look forward to assisting the city and its outside counsel to the fullest practical extent as we pursue the common goal that many of you have addressed — a cruise ship ordinance that reflects the will of the voters.”

Smith also told the commissioners that his office is continuing down a dual path that includes drafting ordinances to reflect the voter-approved referendums while also pursuing mediation between both sides of the ship debate.

“We’ve had several productive meetings, but we’ve told each group that we don’t want to waste their time or ours if an agreement can’t be reached,” Smith said.

Visit keysweekly.com for more coverage of the Nov. 16 commission actions.

If you would like to have the Weekly delivered to your mailbox or inbox along with our daily news blast, please subscribe here.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. She's married to a saintly — and handy — fisherman, and has been stringing words together in Key West since 1998.