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Dismissing Affordable Housing Prejudices, Palm Coast Approves Brookhaven Apartments

| May 21, 2013

Brookhaven in an artist's rendering. click on the image for larger view. (Palm Coast)

Brookhaven in an artist’s rendering. click on the image for larger view. (Palm Coast)

Fears fanned by stereotypical perceptions of affordable housing failed to dissuade the Palm Coast City Council from approving plans to build the Brookhaven 117-unit, 45-acre multi-family project near Town Center, just north of State Road 100.

While officials in many cities talk about building so-called workforce housing for people who work at and patronize local businesses, resistance often rises with worries about crime, declining property values and lack of maintenance because of fears about living near poorer people.

Councilman Bill McGuire gave voice to those who have raised objections, although instead of sharing fears he sought to calm concerns with his questions. “ ‘Gosh you’re going to bring in a bunch of low-income people and drive my property down,’ “ McGuire said as he repeated the worries expressed to him that Brookhaven’s future residents would bring crime and drugs.

Palm Coast city staff, responding first to McGuire, said the city review was not about who might live in the project, but whether the construction plans complied with regulations, which it does.

Next up was Mark Gauthier, vice president of Atlantic Housing Partners, the developer of Brookhaven, who acknowledged there would be income limits for residents. Atlantic Housing Partners has applied to the Volusia Housing Finance Authority for issuance of $9.5 million in tax-free bonds to finance the construction. Affordable housing is required by the bond agreement.

Income limits are set at 60 percent of the median income for Flagler County, which is $36,100 a year for a family of four, or $25,380 for a single person.

“You get a lot of rumors of the unknown,” Gauthier said, “kind of like, the vacant lot next to my house, who’s going to move in there?”

McGuire asked for an example of an affordable housing project a community would be proud to have. “Make me feel better” about the Brookhaven plan, he said.

Gauthier was able to respond with a project previously built by his company in Palm Coast, Beach Village, which has a good reputation.

McGuire apparently felt “better” about the project and joined in the City Council’s 4-1 approval of the Brookhaven plan, but Councilman Bill Lewis did not, casting the only negative vote.

“Will you have a manager on site?” Lewis asked.

Gauthier responded that Atlantic Partners had its own management company, Concord Management, and a manager would be on site.

As for maintenance, Gauthier stressed that his company keeps its projects long term, making good maintenance also good sense. He said maintenance staff would likely be shared with the maintenance staff at Beach Village.

“We retain our properties for a long time, a minimum of 15 years,” Gauthier said. The longtime ownership strategy is an incentive for the company to build its projects well and keep up the maintenance, he said.

Brookhaven is planned to encompass 44.75 acres north of State Road 100 and east of Belle Terre Parkway. A conservation designation would preserve 15.4 acres of wetlands on the project site.

Construction on Brookhaven actually began in 2006, but stalled six years later. Roads, water, sewer and drainage infrastructure along with five residential buildings, a clubhouse and clubhouse parking, as well as a pool were completed before construction came to a halt in 2012, a late victim of the real estate crash.

Twelve of the previously built units were designated as condominiums, but only two sold to residents. Atlantic Partners bought the remaining 10 condominiums and leases those units, a fact resident Dennis McDonald was not aware of when he told the City Council it would be a “recipe for disaster” to mix 12 condominium owners with more than 100 apartment renters. McDonald told the City Council to take a good look at the Brookhaven concept drawing. “This is as good as it’s going to get,” he said.

Gauthier stressed Brookhaven’s features, including environmentally sensitive design with extra insulation, dual pane windows, Energy Star appliances, hybrid water heaters and water-wise landscaping.

Recreational features will also include amenities such as a beach volleyball court, walking trails, a tot lot, picnic tables and a pavilion.

“I know Palm Coast has a big desire to foster sustainable development,” Gauthier said. Part of that goal includes a reduced dependence on driving. Brookhaven residents will be able to walk or bicycle to shopping, restaurants, a movie, or even to visit or work at the hospital.

Residents living in Brookhaven will be able to walk or bicycle to Town Center without going on State Road 100.

Mayor Jon Netts said “walkability” was only a concept when it was brought to the City Council at the start of planning for Town Center. “This contributes rooftops to support local businesses, but it also contributes to make Palm Coast pedestrian friendly,” Netts said.

 

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24 Responses for “Dismissing Affordable Housing Prejudices, Palm Coast Approves Brookhaven Apartments”

  1. Lt Dan says:

    Well, its going to be just like living in Orlando soon. So much for the serenity and manicured houses of Palm Coast. I can hear the Boom Boxes and the load pipes now. Oh, but its OK because you know who made LOTS of money !!!

  2. JMHO says:

    Yet another place for those of us in the middle ground not to qualify for, because we are just a few dollars over the limit, but yet don’t make enough to afford other housing without killing ourselves.

  3. confidential says:

    I don’t think at all that this type of low income housing close to Town Center will cause any problems or lower valuation of our homes in Palm Coast. After all the low income families need to be given the chance to improve their lives too, starting with some affordable homes.

    • Magnolia says:

      Confidential: Low income housing generally is not well taken care of and the crime rate is usually higher. All of these things hurt values in a community. You have seen the last of the new businesses coming to Town Center. This is not to be cruel, it is just the way it is.

    • Magnolia says:

      @Confidential: You won’t mind telling us where low income families have improved the neighborhood in the past, will you?

  4. Lt Dan says:

    Really……”low income apartments”….Well, there goes the neighborhood. I can hear the BOOM BOXES and loud pipes now. Might as well build a police sub station in there with it !!!!

  5. Brad W says:

    I see this as a positive and disagree with Bill McGuire and Dennis McDonald for speculating based upon made up stereotypes of a person’s income level. This project has great placement to round out Town Center, puts some people back to work, and adds to the tax base that will truly help secure the future.

    • Bill McGuire says:

      Brad: As a city Councilman, much of my job consists of asking questions and expressing opinions that are voiced by my constituents to me; either through telephone calls or voicemails. I take this part of being an elected official very seriously and I believe that asking these questions and issuing these challenges in a public forum will focus attention and, possibly, allay the fears of those constituents who are concerned about any project that involves the city. Having asked the question. And, armed with the answers from the presenters and/or the city staff, I cast my vote, hoping that I have acted in the best interests of the citizenry. Your points are well taken and time will tell whether or not my vote was cast correctly.

  6. Ron Hubbard says:

    Palm Coast never met a tax receipt or dollar bill it could collect that it didn’t like.

    Anything, and I mean anything that will generate cash for these obsessive spenders, Palm Coast will approve. That probably includes gambling and prostitution, if it ever came to that.

    The citizens of Palm Coast have to sweep all politicians, councilpeople and committee people OUT of office. They are NO GOOD for the citizens.

    The out of control constant over spending, the traffic light camera debacle, the insidious purchase of the hospital plus the gross inefficiency, waste and poor decision making of PC government is the reason to give failing grades to PC officials and sent them packing.

  7. babymama3 says:

    Wow really, I hate these “LOW INCOME” places what about the ones that make money and like apartments wow w.e I dont agree with this im on the same page as you LT Dan. People go to school and get a real job or get a job instead f living off the state. UGH I am gonna go back to work and make money to pay for all your bills low income people.

    • anon says:

      That makes no sense at all just because you stay in low income housing doesn’t mean you don’t have a job. Everyone in palm coast needs to get a grip and stop living like were in a segregation.

  8. Magnolia says:

    To Brad W: I must respectfully disagree. I have just two words for you, Brad: Cabrini Green. Look it up and what it was intended to be.

    We have just sentenced Town Center to the scrap heap. The R Section is already doing that.

    We were lied to about Town Center, but then we have been lied to about many things by this Mayor and City Manager.

  9. Dennis McDonald says:

    Brad.
    Your response misses my only point. Mixing owners and renters is recipe for disaster which history proves to be correct. How would you like to be one of the two that bought in early and then have the “rules” changed. More important professional planning would not allow this application and our Planning Dept [Ray Tyner]did not do their job. Have you looked at the “junk” development they have allowed to be created. Let me name a few: the newest Dollar Store a contender for the least significant award, Colbert Lane High Rise Old Folks Home a violation of our 2008 rezone that put these uses in Town Center. Just wait for these “experts” to start digging up Palm Coast Parkway to make it better. All of this is a function of Landon/Netts miss management and I know you will say that Netts has no say in this, well why does he have a TWO hour plus meeting with Landon every week when the Mayor’s job description says NO administrative duties ? Please read Palmcoastoversight.com 6% Netts [because he was re elected by 2850 out of 54,000 of the registered voters] will be recalled.
    So back to the question …How would you like to be one of the TWO owners that purchased and paying that mortgage with NO return ?

  10. Question Authority says:

    This new low income housing project is next to Madison Green, which I think is owned by the same company. This makes three Section 8 projects on S. R. 100. Eventually I will not shop in this area as I will not feel comfortable. Worst thing was to concentrate the housing. Magnolia is right, Town Center was to have been a giant destination experience. You won’t get people there-Church Street in Orlando is a comparable example. This City flushed the single family homeowner. Get out if you can-

  11. Reality Check says:

    The quote “rooftops to support local businesses” is a farce! What businesses (except for maybe another $1 store) will be now be attracted to build in Town Center Palm Coast? Town Center was touted as a place for upscale retail shops and businesses… DH & I were expecting something to transpire like St. John Town Center in Jax or Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando. Now, 9 years later, all we have is a movie theatre, a “family” park where the city serves liquor, and now a low income housing development. Hope our house sells soon!

  12. Joe says:

    I would like to disspell a couple of false statements and/or beliefs stated here.
    1) This project is NOT section 8 welfare housing.
    2) A comparison to Cabrini Green projects or any other ultra urban section 8 housing projects is rediculous.
    3) I have seen MANY of Atlantic Housing’s projects through the years, including Beach Village on SR 100 behind Publix, and can say that they are maintained AT LEAST as well as you maintain your homes, if not BETTER!

    There are some absolutely horrid “affordable housing” projects run by slum lords but I can tell you that this company owns complexes that are next door to the Oviedo Town Center and across the street from the Millenia Mall, the premier high end shopping mecca of Orlando, and you wouldn’t even know they are “affordable housing”!

    Time will tell and you will be glad that they are the company that owns this project!

  13. Dianne says:

    Where are the jobs for the people who are going to move in here??????? Kind of hard for them to spend money at our “upscale” shops if they have no jobs.

  14. Dianne says:

    p.s………I would think that the people that are already living in Palm Coast need the jobs before bringing more people in to raise our already high unemployment rate.

  15. Linda says:

    I know I am months late responding to this, but I feel I must. I am one of those people who would love to move there. I lived in Flagler County for 7 years before my husband passed and then for another 2. We were part of the life there. My husband was a known radio figure. I worked full time for a well known national company. I had to move away because I could not afford to live there any longer. At least not somewhere I could afford and be proud of. I was always impressed with Brookhaven. I had previously owned my home but because of the financial situation caused by medical expenses, this was no longer possible. So I am now one of those low income renters. I am over 60 and on SS disability. It’s a two way street – I can’t afford to live in a nice home and the “classy” rentals do not want to rent to me. I had many praises for the way I kept my home because it was a rental. My home is my home! Yes, there are people, believe it or not, it’s not just the “low income” people, who believe that you don’t have to keep up your home because you do not own it. Bull!!!! Why did I fall in love with Brookhaven – the style and the location (walking distance to all the places I am interested in). I would be proud to live there. But when I was looking to move – I could not afford what they were asking for rent. I always wondered, at the time, why there were so many empty units. I couldn’t understand why they would want so many empty units and risk vandalism.

    In any case, I get very upset when I read comments such as these. I am not a lowlife and I resent being thought of as one because my income is reduced. There are problems everywhere. Why do you think that just because my income is lower than yours that I am going to cause a problem?

    I pray that none of you ever go through what I have to even be where I am. I went to sleep one night and woke up the next day being told my husband was dying of cancer. I went to sleep one night and woke up the next day and had a stroke. I lost a week of my life – do not remember anything. I feel bad enough being where I am, and living where I do, without being told that you do not want to associate with me.

    • OPHELIA KELLEY says:

      this give the new people a chance to better. they always get turn down for a new home. help these people out and be compassionate if you are a christian……

  16. OPHELIA KELLEY says:

    the government will not give grant money to remodeling the projects in bunnell,fl. those projects need to be condemn a long time ago. i don’t like going over there, but there are a very nice people over there.

  17. lindaland says:

    First, thank you for approving Brookhaven. Secondly, I would just like to comment to all the people who think I will bring the property down. I’m not quite sure where my boom box is – oh, that’s right – I don’t have one. I’m 62 years old. I have worked my entire life – my husband was a DJ on your Flagler radio station for years before he passed. He wasn’t paid for this – it was voluntary. He warned you of storms coming – he stayed at the station on the beach during the hurricanes to make sure you all knew what was happening. He played the songs you requested.

    Then he died. I was laid off from a job I had worked at for five years and thought I would retire from. I had to move from Flagler because I could not afford to live there. I was going to move back this year, but I had a stroke, actually a year ago today. I can’t afford it again. I am on Social Security Disability which the government has deemed what it should be. I have worked since I was 16 and paid into the system. You have to fight for every cent that you contributed to and they still make you feel as though they are giving you a hand out. Is it enough to live on – no. Not even close. However, as one person mentioned, it is just enough to put you over by a, literally, few dollars that you cannot get any assistance.

    I have always lived in nice places. We had a home in Palm Coast for 7 years – moved to Flagler Beach until my husband passed. Then I moved from the area because I couldn’t find a “nice” place to live. I have pride in my home. I don’t care if I own it or rent it – it is my home. I never waited for someone else to take care of a problem, I took care of it. I have upgraded and made improvements.

    Do you see the $25,380 limit on income? I wish I made that much. So what am I being forced to do? Move out of the area to somewhere I feel safe and can be proud of. You have no idea what it feels like to be where I am. I hope you never do. I hope that you all make plans for your future and not believe that you are not going to have to worry about it.

    So now you’re telling me that there is a very nice place to live, but you won’t go there, you don’t want me somewhere I can live comfortably, proudly and be able to walk to the store and the movie theater and the doctors and hospital. But see – you will not go to Town Center any longer and places will start closing up and it will become the area that you are so sure it will. You have already deemed me as undesirable. Thank you so much.

    You bring up lack of maintenance – you do realize that property management is responsible for that? As I said, I have always taken extra care of my home, but I do not have control over the landscaping or condition of the buildings. I care for the cleanliness of the outside and whatever decorating I am allowed to have.

    In any case, I do want to thank the Council for giving a chance to live in a nice home to those who would not otherwise be able to. I honestly wish I could apply there. I guess I never could understand why it seemed like a better idea to have an unfinished area with empty buildings than to actually make it affordable for people to live there. I always thought it was an ideal location, which I still believe it is.

    Please don’t shut the area out. Don’t cringe when someone says where they live – it’s not exactly all peaches and cream throughout Flagler. Go with the attitude that this just might work out – positive thinking is a powerful motivator.

  18. Geezer says:

    Don’t torture yourself by taking ignorant and hateful words from strangers to heart.
    Life is also too short to spend it trying to reach people set in their hateful ways.

    Enjoy the sunshine and I hope that you secure a unit in Brookhaven.

  19. connie says:

    people who believe all persons that receive help from the government like Section 8, like myself are on drugs or lowlives. Well let me open your eyes. You may someday be in the same position and need help us. So all of you who have homes, some money in the bank and believe you deserve it all. Life can throw you a fast ball, where as you will be in the same dilemma. I’am also 63 years old have a very serious medical condition. Lived very nice homes where my landlords loved me. I took care of their homes as if they were my own. I want to be in line for a apartment in Brookhaven. Reason can’t take care of yard work like I use to and I believe we should all have the honor and privelge to live the life we should all have…………………….Remember “you maybe there too”

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