It was the “yes” vote by the Planning and Zoning Board for a proposed LGBT-friendly affordable housing project for seniors that sent the room into a tizzy.
Already known as “the second gayest city” in the U.S., Wilton Manors was suddenly one step closer to distinguishing itself again: the one-of-a-kind project in Broward County was moving forward.
“It’s a very strong statement to the rest of the country for the City of Wilton Manors to do this,” said an elated Robert Boo, CEO of the Pride Center at Equality Park, on Monday. “This is something we’ve been working on for six years and to see it come to fruition is very fulfilling.”
A crowd of more than 50 residents at the Hagen Park Community Center erupted in applause. LGBT residents wearing stickers that read, “I Support Seniors” hugged and kissed.
“This will be one of Wilton Manors’ crown jewels and give us national prominence and attention,” said Bob Poster, 69, an 11-year city resident and retired Army officer who spoke in favor of the project. “I’m delighted.”
The nearly $15 million complex is slated for construction at 2040 N. Dixie Highway, where it will adjoin The Pride Center at Equality Park. The project must still be approved by the Wilton Manors City Commission.
“We can be the butterfly that starts flapping its wings and makes incredible change,” said Father Richard Vitale, associate pastor at Holy Angels National Catholic Church in Wilton Manors, after giving an impassioned speech at the meeting.
The complex, to be built by Carrfour Supportive Housing Inc., will include low income housing tax credits from Florida Housing Finance Corporation, already secured by Carrfour.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval for the 48-unit project after agreeing that their concerns about aesthetics and parking had been adequately addressed. In July, board chairman Nicholas Berry likened the project’s appearance to a jail while others voiced concern about parking. The board sent it back for revisions.
“I think your development team went above and beyond in satisfying some of the board’s comments,” Berry said at the meeting. "I think you did a fantastic job.”
One resident worried that there is only one entrance and exit to the property. Another continued to voice concern about parking.
“It’s certain if this project goes forward cars are going to be spilling out into the neighborhood,” said Ed Slough, who uses the Pride Center services weekly and said parking is already inadequate. “I find it kind of shocking.”
The modified site plan presented on Monday included the following improvements:
- Significant design modifications to the facade
- 30 reserved parking spots designated for residential units
- Two additional handicapped parking spots
- Pet area added with pet waste stations
- Indoor cycle storage room
If city commissioners approve the project, Carrfour’s affiliate Crossroads Management LLC will manage the building and have a presence on-site. The property would be leased from the Pride Center under a 65-year, long-term lease and must be maintained as affordable housing for 50 years.
Under the proposal, 34 of the 48 units would be set aside as housing for disabled seniors. All units would be available to adults age 55 or older, said attorney David J. Coviello.
Carrfour has been building affordable housing in Florida since 1993 and currently oversees more than 1,700 housing units in Miami-Dade County. The proposed project at the Pride Center would be its first in Broward County.
- The project is planned for 5.16 acres on the northwest corner of the property
- Units would include a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments of varying sizes
- The complex will include a club room, a library/computer room, a gym, laundry and an administrative office
- The main lobby would physically connect with the main Pride Center building