New affordable housing for seniors planned for Miami Beach

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The City of Miami Beach Housing Authority has submitted plans to the city’s Historic Preservation Board for approval to build two projects for seniors in the Normandy Islands Historic District. Above: A render of a project, Vista.

Brooks + Scarpa

Retirees and golf enthusiasts may soon be lining up for new affordable housing in preparation for Miami Beach’s North Beach neighborhood.

Affordable senior housing developments are planned at 280 South Shore Dr. and 185 South Shore Dr., steps from Normandy Shores Golf Course.

The City of Miami Beach Housing Authority, a branch of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has filed plans with the city’s Historic Preservation Board to construct two four-story buildings called The Breeze and The Vista on land vacant. The project totals 119 apartment rentals.

The Breeze and Vista will be for people 62 and older, according to Mike O’Hara, director of housing programs for the housing authority. The units will rent for between $478 and $1,366 per month, depending on the tenant’s income. Residents must earn at least 80% of the region’s median income, or $54,640 per year.

The housing authority’s development plans come at a time when Miami-Dade County continues to struggle with an affordability crisis. Wealthy transplants have flocked to Miami-Dade during the pandemic, following the expansion of tech and financial companies. This has led to a decrease in the supply of housing and an increase in asking rents, worsening an already dire housing situation.

“One of the greatest needs of this community is affordable housing and even more so for seniors who lack the ability to move and move,” O’Hara said via email. “Seniors face an extremely high rental cost burden and a lack of accessible housing in Miami Beach that forces them to seek housing outside of the city and county.”

The Historic Preservation Board is due to discuss the plans on June 14 at its monthly meeting. The council needs to review the plans because they fall under the Normandy Islands Historic District, which stretches from South Shore Drive to Rue Versailles and Normandy Drive to Rue Notre Dame.

If approved, the housing authority will move on to filing building documents for permission, O’Hara said. Construction would begin in late 2023 and the buildings would open in early 2025.

Normandy Shores is a man-made island located west of Collins Avenue, north of 71st Street. The area has a population of 1,618, according to the latest US census data. The neighborhood has roots that date back to the 1920s. Henri Levi, one of Miami Beach’s first developers and investors, connected Normandy Shores and the adjacent Normandy Island to the mainland with a road that leads to the 79th Street Causeway. He also commissioned the Île de Normandie fountain, which underwent a $350,000 restoration in 2014.

Normandy Shores and Normandy Isle saw most of their single-family homes and character apartment buildings built after World War II. But the landscape changes with the new constructions. Over the past 10 years, projects like the 43 townhouse Iris on the Bay community have added a touch of modern architecture to the area.

Vista, Breeze Normandy Shores.PNG
The City of Miami Beach Housing Authority plans to build two affordable housing buildings within walking distance of each other in Normandy Shores. Above: Rendering of Authority projects, Breeze colored in buttercream yellow and Vista in aqua blue. Brooks + Scarpa

So far, the housing authority oversees Rebecca Towers, two affordable senior housing buildings built in the 1970s in South Beach. In addition to The Breeze and The Vista, the Housing Authority has a city-approved project planned for Normandy Island: The Heron, a 20-unit affordable senior housing building. He is currently in the process of being licensed.

Seniors face a particularly grim situation in the affordable housing crisis, said Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, president and CEO of Miami-based Carrfour Supportive Housing, a nonprofit that develops and maintains affordable housing.

“It’s the fastest growing population in homelessness,” Berman-Eisenberg said, “since most seniors are on fixed incomes.”

Normandy Coast Breeze 1.PNG
The two projects would have a total of 119 affordable senior housing studios. Above: A rendering of Breeze, which is said to be sitting on the Normandy waterway. Brooks+Scarpa

Thousands of units are needed to meet Miami Beach’s demand for affordable housing and labor, City Commissioner Ricky Arriola said. He said he estimates the city needs 4,000 to 8,000 affordable, workforce-oriented housing units.

“We have a housing crisis in this country. We have a housing crisis in Miami Beach,” Arriola said. “Housing is becoming out of reach for the vast majority of people. We have to face it and the first way to do it is to provide housing.

The only problem ? Residents and leaders have opposed these plans for years, with some saying affordable and workforce housing could lead to more traffic, noise, crowds and lower property values.

Says Arriola: “You get people complaining, ‘Not in my backyard.’ ”

Rebecca San Juan writes about the real estate industry, covering news on industrial, commercial, office projects, construction contracts, and the intersection of real estate and law for industry professionals. She studied at Mount Holyoke College and is proud to report on her hometown.
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