Miami Jewish Health partners with developer to propose affordable housing in Pembroke Pines

Published Date: 12/22/2021

Miami Jewish Health is working with McDowell Housing Partners to build additional affordable housing and health care facilities on its Pembroke Pines campus.

Jeffrey Freimark, president and CEO of the Miami-based nonprofit, said the organization wants to address the severe shortage of affordable housing for low-income seniors. Its 25-acre Douglas Gardens campus, at 705 S.W. 88th Ave., currently has a three-year-plus waiting list for the 323 units of affordable senior housing already in place. Its development plan would more than double the number of units.

“You would be shocked at the number of seniors who are unable to afford housing,” Freimark said. “Some of the horror stories are of people living in automobiles and bus stations because they have no family here and can’t afford to live anywhere.”

With the cost of rent increasing double digits in South Florida this year, that problem has gotten worse. That is why Miami Jewish Health and Miami-based McDowell Housing Partners, the affordable housing division of Dallas-based McDowell Properties, filed plans to expand Douglas Gardens.

The plans call for buildings of 151,418 and 148,200 square feet, both six stories and with 200 units each of affordable housing for people ages 62 and up. It would also include a 20,000-square-foot medical building for Miami Jewish Health’s PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) services for Medicare/Medicaid eligible seniors.

PACE is a slate of health care services to help keep seniors out of nursing homes.

Christopher Shear, chief operating officer of McDowell Housing Partners, said the PACE center will help Miami Jewish Health care for the seniors already living in Douglas Gardens, which are currently visiting its PACE center in Miramar.

Freimark said Miami Jewish Health has 1,000 people in its PACE program, which currently has four locations. The expansion in Douglas Gardens would create 100 to 150 jobs, he said.

Shear said the senior housing buildings would also have on-site health care services, such as a clinic and a fitness center, along with dining facilities. Miami-based Rep R Twar is the architect of the project.

One of the buildings has already been funded with a $5 million, no-interest loan from Broward County. Shear said he’s seeking approval from the county for a similar loan for the second building. He anticipates the total project cost will be $57.5 million. If the financing is approved, they should break ground in late 2022, he added.

While the project would be built on 14 acres of the property by a joint venture between McDowell Housing Partners and Miami Jewish Health, the nonprofit would ultimately own the project once the buildings are done. Miami Jewish Health controls the entire site through a land lease with the state of Florida.

“It’s independent living but with the continuum of care to keep people in their units living independently and aging with dignity,” Shear said.