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OK given for affordable housing in Naples for essential workers, seniors, and veterans

One thing after one other could have derailed plans for a workforce and senior housing project on the Golden Gate golf course property owned by Collier County. The COVID-19 pandemic, Hurricane Ian, contaminated soil, escalating construction costs, and rates of interest converged over three years to cause delays. With no fanfare, Collier commissioners Oct. 24 unanimously approved measures to allocate nearly $21 million from various county and state sources, including $4.8 million in land costs, to get the project began.

The plan calls for 252 rental units for workforce housing for essential staff such first responders, teachers, and healthcare staff. One other 100 to 120 units can be for seniors and veterans.

The necessity is large. Out-of-sight housing costs are the highest issue identified by 65% of respondents in a just-released 2023 community assessment survey to assist leaders in government and philanthropy focus their efforts on improving the standard of life in Collier. The dearth of inexpensive rentals and cheap properties for buyers causes lengthy commutes for staff who must live in more cost effective areas of Southwest Florida. An Urban Land Institute evaluation in 2016 determined 40,000 people commute to Collier each day, a figure that has likely increased.

The commuters work in critical industries that struggle to fill vacancies for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic upended the labor market; the commutes hinder employers’ efforts in recruitment and retention. In 2021, roughly 35% of local residents were “housing burdened,” where they spend 30% or more of their income on housing, data from the survey of 6,000 residents found in the neighborhood assessment released last week.

The report could be found here . Sponsors of the assessment are the Community Foundation of Collier County and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation.

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for Nov. 27 for the workforce housing project on 25 acres on the southern end of the golf course. The county bought the 165-acre golf course at Golden Gate Parkway and Collier Boulevard in 2019 for $29 million. The whole development cost of the project is estimated at $94 million, which incorporates the land value from the county, said Steven Kirk, president of Rural Neighborhoods. The nonprofit organization is accountable for the event and management of the project under a 99-year contract with the county. A contract with a builder, DeAngelis Diamond is being finalized, Kirk said.

The aim is to begin construction Feb. 1 with a two-phased approach over 15 to 18 months, he said. There shall be nine residential buildings which might be three stories each for the 252 workforce units and a clubhouse. The second phase is one mid-rise constructing of 5 to 6 floors for the 100 to 120 units for seniors and veterans, he said. While the COVID-19 pandemic and Ian in September 2022 contributed to delays getting through approvals, rate of interest hikes have been particularly troubling. “It has been incredibly impactful,” Kirk said. “It has reduced the quantity we will borrow by 20%.” The plan now’s to borrow $52 million, which earlier was slated to be $63 million. “We proceed to hunt philanthropic gifts,” he said, adding that Rural Neighborhoods is deferring its fee and is contributing $1.5 million. Early on, when the project was conceived three years ago, the community foundation, the Schulze foundation, and the Moorings Park Foundation collectively contributed $10 million. “There have been just a variety of delays,” Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and chief executive officer of the community foundation, said. “This has been a protracted and painful project. (The county is) doing the whole lot they will to maneuver it forward.” One other issue was arsenic present in the golf course soil which means removing the contaminated soil and bringing in cover fill, Kirk said. That work has not began, however the permits are in hand from the state authorities on the soil remediation, he said.

The expectation is for the essential workforce tenants to pay 30% of household income on rent and utilities. The income limits are $53,900 to $119,760 for a four-person household targeted at 50%, 80%, and 120% of the realm median income. The apartments are planned at 790 square feet for a one-bedroom unit, a two-bedroom is 1,055 square feet, and a three-bedroom can be 1,335 square feet. Rents would range from $870 to $1,949 for a one-bedroom apartment, $1,037 to $1,179 for a two-bedroom, and a three-bedroom apartment at $1,191 to $2,411. For seniors, the apartments are targeted for incomes at 28% to 80% of area median income. The apartments haven’t been fully designed so square footage has not been determined, but they shall be smaller and certain range from 640 square feet to 880 square feet. The rents haven’t been set for the reason that apartments is not going to be available until 2025.

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