By Jason Schwartz
An affordable housing project that has been in the making for about five years finally got a jump start recently with the breaking of ground.
But construction on the $38.4 million Village Square project, in the 700 block of Southwest 12th Terrace, has been delayed.
“We’re trying to close. Those investors are really tough negotiators,” Dorothy Ellington, executive director for the Delray Beach Housing Authority, said Jan. 29. “Closing is set for Feb. 1. We are prohibited from turning any dirt with bulldozers or whatever until we actually close on the deal. So that’s the hold up right now.”
It’s expected to be completed by June 2014, officials said.
“It’s a little bit anticlimactic after all these years I’ve spent all of my adrenaline doing it, getting it done,” Ellington said. “When I see the bricks go up from the ground then I think the excitement will come back as strong as it ever was.”
The revitalization project, on 11 acres that once housed the Carver Estates public housing project, will feature senior housing, affordable rentals and market-priced and single-family homes.
Village Square will be built in three phases: Phase 1 will be 84 rental apartment units for the elderly. The second phase will be 144 rental apartment units and the final phase will be 31 single family homes.
The project will be paid for with $2.7 million from the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, $5.9 million in Florida Tax Exempt bond financing, $10 million from private capital contributions and $19.8 in tax credits by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
The project will contribute to our nation’s economic recovery because of the more than 100 construction jobs and the 10 or so permanent jobs it is projected to create, Ellington said.
Mayor Tom Carney applauded Ellington for keeping the housing authority alive even when forces such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development thought it should no longer exist.
“Our agency was not doing so well…,” Carney said. “But Dorothy sort of … worked very, very hard, and in 18 months we went from a troubled agency to a high performer.”
The authority bought the piece of land across the way and I just want to thank Dorothy for all the hard work she has done in this housing authority because without Dorothy we would not have this housing authority”
The project was originally conceived in 2007 as part of a partnership with local developer The Auburn Group to build 950 apartments, condominiums and town houses that would have replaced Carver Estates and Auburn Trace rental complex.
But in 2010, the two parties broke off the agreement over differences and the Auburn Group went on to build Villages at Delray, an affordable rental project adjacent to the land the authority owns.
C. Ron Allen contributed to this report.
Contact reporter at jason@Delraybeachtribune.com or 561-665-0151.