Years after the last of its residents left, the former Middle River Trailer Park has new tenants.
Now known as The Metropolitan, a 179-unit apartment complex next to Colohatchee Park, residents recently began moving in – 10 families as of May 13.
“It’s a thrill for us. We’re moving in two or three families a day. We’ll probably have 20 families by the time you print this. We’re up and running,” said Dean Borg, principal at Ascend Properties, the Boca Raton company which built and operates The Metropolitan. Borg added that 40 leases were signed based on blueprints alone. “We hope and expect to own this asset for a long, long time.”
The development includes studio, one, two and three bedroom units that range from $1,400 to $2,900 a month and includes a clubhouse, resort-style pool, fitness studio, yoga studio, private garages, dog park, herb garden, car wash area, private board meetings, cyber café, business center and car charging station.
It consists of three residential buildings and one clubhouse. Borg said the north building and clubhouse are finished and the central and south buildings will be done in 25 to 40 days. “We’re just doing a little more enhancement.”
“We turned a blighted, dilapidated mobile home park into a gem. This was really a win/win,” Borg said. Before Ascend bought the property, another developer wanted to build “G Resorts,” a gay-themed hotel. That proposal ran into a lot of resistance from local residents. By contrast, The Metropolitan did not receive any serious opposition.
Before that, the trailer park had become an eyesore that racked-up hundreds of thousands of dollars in code fines over the years. The one benefit came through its use as a filming location for the 1996 film “Striptease” starring Demi Moore.
Former mayor John Fiore remembers when the film’s producers came looking to use the trailer park. They were looking for one that was run down but told Fiore that Middle River would have to be improved slightly because it was “too run down.”
Borg said Ascend, which includes founder Michael Wohl, principal Richard Finkelstein and Kenneth Sanchez, director of business operations, wants to be the opposite of what the trailer park was: a benefit to the community. “We have a local team. We welcome our neighbors and we welcome our community. We’re planning a lot of community events.”
There’s also an art park built for use by the public. Local artists are invited to display their work there.
Ascend is also promoting nearby businesses and The Pink Flamingo, an electric car service that operates in the city. The closeness of Eucalyptus Gardens, which includes a restaurant and coffee shop, and Stork’s, a bakery and coffee shop, is a selling point on the company’s website. Borg said Ascend is forging partnerships with these businesses.
“We’re very much oriented to supporting the community . . . and to make it convenient and apparent to our residents that it’s a half a block stroll [from their homes]. These wonderful, vibrant amenities are half a block from them.”