Broward County could award $10 million infederal funds for Live Local Act project

The Broward County Commission could allocate $9.75 million in federal funds to a developer who wants to build affordable housing under the Live Local Act.

The County Commission will consider the award of federal American Rescue Act funds for Ekos Pembroke Park on Oct. 24. The county’s Housing Finance Division previously gave this project the highest score out of three developers that applied for the money.

At a cost of $43.93 million, Ekos Pembroke Park was proposed by a partnership between Miami/Dallas-based McDowell Housing Partners (MHP) and Douglas Gardens Senior Housing, an affiliate of non-profit Miami Jewish Health. They have the 1.8-acre site at the northeast corner of 56th Avenue and County Line Road in Pembroke Park under contract from the QT Inc.

Christopher Shear, chief operating officer of MHP, said Ekos Pembroke Park would have 150 apartments for seniors making up to 60% of area median income. He said it would be a tower of 10 to 12 stories, as they haven’t finalized the design or submitted a site plan to the city.

Shear said MHP would seek approval for the project under Florida’s new Live Local Act, which permits multifamily development on commercial-zoned sites equal to the greatest density level in the city as long as at least 40% of the units are affordable/workforce housing. In this case, the entire project would be affordable housing, he said.

The median household income in Broward County is $82,100.

MHP would partner with Miami Jewish Health for this project, as it did for the affordable senior housing it’s currently building in Pembroke Pines. Shear said this offers several benefits. Miami Jewish Health would provide services to seniors in the complex, such as immunizations, exams and transportations to its PACE center, and the health care system’s rent for that space would support the project. By having the majority of the property owned by a non-profit, that creates a property tax exemption for the affordable senior housing, Shear added.

The apartments in Ekos Pembroke Park would start at 600 square feet, he said.

“Seniors have been among the most vulnerable populations to the inflation we are experiencing,” Shear said. “Seniors often lived on fixed incomes and they don’t have the ability to off set the increasing costs of housing and living with increased wages. Seniors are being pushed out of their current apartments because they don’t have the ability to pay the inflated rents of the last few years.”

Miami-based Reprtwar is the architect on the project. Shear said he intends to file a site plan application in late 2023 or early 2024. MHP will seek additional sources of financing, including low-income housing tax credits and conventional construction debt, he added.