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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. 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.

       0 likes

  2. 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.

       2 likes

  3. 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.

       1 likes

  4. 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”

       0 likes

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