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Palm Beach Post - August 02, 2005
Boynton's Promenade Fuels
By Will Vash
BOYNTON BEACH — In exchange for a $6 million incentive package,
the developer of The Promenade promised to offer "affordable access" to
16 condos in the towering, upscale structure.
At The Promenade, affordable means $238,000 to $257,000 per condominium.
Advocates of affordable housing say the swanky project with ocean views
showcases the deep chasm between the haves and the have-nots.
"It's just another example of a major discord of what people need and
can afford versus what's going on in the market," said David Zimet,
executive director of the Boynton Beach Faith Based Community
Development Corp. "It's just not going to happen without major
A person making an average wage of $40,000 a year could not afford to live in a place like The Promenade, Zimet said.
Community Redevelopment Agency members in April approved a 10-year
incentive package to the developers of The Promenade. The deal required
that 16 of the condominiums be offered at a discount to buyers whose
incomes qualify for lower-priced "affordable access."
Miami-based Panther Real Estate Partners plans to build two 14-story
towers with a mix of 304 condos, 16 townhouses and 77 extended-stay
furnished condo-hotel rooms in the downtown area.
The project, a couple of blocks from the Boynton Beach Marina, would
also include a deck with putting greens, private cabanas, two pools, a
whirlpool spa, shops and restaurants.
The developer could not be reached for comment Monday.
CRA Director Doug Hutchinson agrees that it is unrealistic that someone
making $40,000 a year would be able to live in the complex, where
condos were purchased at pre-construction prices ranging from the high
$200,000s to close to $1 million.
He described the affordable condos as "workforce" units that would be marketed to young professionals.
"We are trying to make sure everyone has a good safe roof over their
heads. All projects can't serve all people," Hutchinson said. "To even
have one unit of workforce housing in a project like this is pretty
Grand Bank & Trust President J. Russell Greene said a buyer would
probably have to make at least $60,000 to afford an "affordable access"
condo in The Promenade.
"It's a serious problem," Greene said of rising housing prices.
Roslynne Powell, housing counselor of Northwood Renaissance, a
nonprofit economic development group, said The Promenade prices are way
"That's definitely not considered affordable housing," she said. "An average person cannot afford that."
Powell said a realistic housing price for someone making between $35,000 and $40,000 a year is about $180,000.
Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor said the city still has a long way to go on affordable housing.
Officials are mulling an ordinance that would allow developers to build
their projects with greater density in exchange for the inclusion of
affordable housing. They are also considering a "community real estate
trust" in charge of controlling property and providing the opportunity
for home and landownership to lower-income and workforce residents.
"I don't think you're going to find them in a location like that,"
Taylor said of the likelihood of moderate-income workers moving into
Hutchinson said The Promenade units mark only the beginning of the
city's efforts to encourage affordable housing in new developments.
He pointed to the former Boynton Mobile Home Village, where a developer
plans to build 180 townhomes. In March, the city's CRA gave the
developer a $1.1 million incentive package, which has been paying to
move mobile-home residents from the park. The developers agreed to
offer some of the new townhomes at lower prices to those residents.
"There's going to be many projects to address all different income
levels. One project isn't going to do that," Hutchinson said. "It's
going to take a little patience."