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Beach Post - December 5, 2006
Riviera Beach housing project coming down
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By William Cooper Jr.
BEACH — As far as groundbreakings go, this wasn't your typical sort.
Instead of using the standard gold shovels and hard hats, Annetta
Jenkins called in a crane.
"We thought the best thing we could
do was to knock something down," said Jenkins, standing where the
city's 29-year-old housing project, Ivey Green Village, will be
replaced with 166 new townhomes.
Jenkins, senior program
director with South Florida Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a
nonprofit agency that helps develop affordable housing, has worked with
the city and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to
come up with plan to replace the 153-unit housing project after it was
severely damaged by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. The nonprofit has
put up $750,000 in order to demolish the aging structure as well as
come up with the townhome concept.
The goal is to take Ivey
Green from being a typical housing project to a community that's a mix
of homeowners and renters, Jenkins said. The new housing will cater to
people of varying incomes, ranging from $17,000 for renters up to
$80,000 for homeowners. Those closer to the lower end of the income
scale may receive tax credits or subsidies from Palm Beach County or
the city in order to live in the new housing, she said.
"The idea is to develop a project, where you can't tell who's renting from who's owning," she said.
of the 166 townhomes, 58 will be sold to private owners, said Anthony
Britto, an operations specialist who works out of HUD's Miami office,
which oversees the city's housing project. Overall, the cost to build
the new housing and to renovate the remaining 50 senior citizen units
is about $18 million, he said.
Demolishing Ivey Green will take
about six months, Britto said. During that time, HUD plans to pick a
developer for the project and finalize the price of the townhomes, he
Built nearly three decades ago, Ivey Green was constructed
as a place of opportunity, where poor families could have decent living
conditions and run by the Riviera Beach Housing Authortiy. At its peak,
more than 500 people called Ivey Green home, but like many public
housing projects across America, years of neglect, crime and
mismanagement took its toll on the project off Congress Avenue and
south of Blue Heron Boulevard.
Resident Margaret Shepherd, who
has lived in the senior citizens' building for six years, was a vocal
critic of how the local authority was operating the project. Shepherd,
who said residents suffered through everything from floods to an
infestation of rats, celebrated Monday that the new housing was finally
on its way.
Councilwoman Liz Wade, whose district includes Ivey
Green, said she is optimistic that new housing will improve the
community and give residents an opportunity to improve their standard
"In my adult life, I've seen this project go up," Wade said. "In my adult life, I've seen it go down."
2001, the authority was on HUD's list of the most troubled housing
agencies in the country. By 2004, HUD took over running the authority
after Riviera Beach officials were found to be mismanaging the project.
recent improvements, including the hiring of Philip Goombs as executive
director of the housing authority, the next step is to create a new
housing authority board.
"Everything about Ivey Green will be new," Jenkins said.
its name will change, said Jenkins, who plans to have a contest among
local elementary and middle school children to rename the complex.
"We're trying to involve the entire community.