By Danielle Armour
DELRAY BEACH – In the first six months of this year, police were called at least 71 times to the Village at Delray, the public complex intended to attract residential, retail and commercial tenants.
Fourteen of those calls were for disturbances including three at the clubhouse, five for domestic matters and three were drug related, police records show.
On July 1, at around 11:30 p.m., police came to the complex at least three times after they received calls about a man brandishing a handgun outside one of the buildings. Two teenage girls, including one wearing an ankle bracelet, were fighting when one called her brother, and told him to “bring his heat,” street word for handgun.
As a crowd formed on both sides of the building, they hurled verbal insults.
In another case, a security guard was attacked in an altercation and a golf cart stolen.
“It’s not safe. They got some bad people out there,” resident Jeanie Roker said. “They said they were gonna screen [for criminal background], but they don’t. I won’t even let my children outside.”
The constant police intervention has infuriated residents who say this image is in stark contrast to what developers promised them last year as they built the $33.5 million community on Auburn Avenue, the extension of SW 12th Avenue.
Several residents and community leaders say this does not surprise them. Developers initially set out to offer a mixed-income, workforce community, with townhomes, condos, and several units set aside for low-income residents. However, to take advantage of state grants, the developer, the Auburn Group, changed original plans to offer only low-income apartments. The community objected, fearing the development would become like Carver Estates, a crime- and drug-ridden housing project, severely damaged by hurricane Wilma in 2005. Carver Estates was located immediately south of the Village at Delray.
“They straight out lied to those people,” said Ann Stacey Green Wright, president of the Southwest Neighborhood Alliance. “It’s all being back to being Carver Estates again.”
Wright and other grassroots leaders have been vocal of the project from the start. They attended City Commission meetings and urged commissioners against supporting the plan.
“I told them at the meeting it was going to be a drive-through pharmacy and I didn’t mean a Walgreens or CVS,” she said. “And see what’s happening now.”
Auburn Group officials did not respond to repeated requests seeking comments. The property managers also have turned down telephone requests for interviews.