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New Mixed-Income Project On Brickell Gives Teachers Top Priority

Brickell is best known as a financial center — and the luxury condos where many of its highly paid employees live. Those who earn less lofty wages can soon rejoice: housing is on the way.

One quarter of the apartments at the 500-unit Gallery at West Brickell will be reserved for households earning 50% of the county’s $59,000 median income — in other words, around $29,500. The rest will go to households earning up to 140% of the median — around $82,000.

Ten of the units at 201 SW 10th St. will be reserved specifically for teachers and other Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees in the target income ranges, thanks to MIami-Dade Public Schools participation as a co-developer of the 29-story apartment tower and the adjacent K-8 school next door. Other developer entities involved in this pilot project are Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Development department, and Related Urban Group.

“Teachers underscored the issue of affordable housing options in Miami-Dade,” Jaquelyn Calzadilla, communications director for county schools wrote in an email. “The partnership is an exploration of additional opportunities for our workforce in which they can voluntarily explore and benefit from.”

The selection process for the schools-designated units will be led by Miami-Dade County’s Public Housing and Community Development Department.

The pilot program resulted from a convergence of needs: for increased elementary capacity at Southside and for more workforce housing, Calzadilla wrote. The idea for this project was first floated in 2018.

Construction on the $156 million residential tower is expected to begin in the third quarter and open in late 2023, according to Albert Milo, president of Related Urban Group.

Units range from a studio for $755 per month, Milo said, to a three-bedroom, two bathroom unit for $3,000 per month.

“We’re addressing two major needs — quality education and quality housing,” Milo said. “The fact that it happens to be in an affluent area is even more beneficial. It goes to show even in higher cost neighborhoods, if the public sector and the private sector are working together we can tackle issues that the public wants to be addressed.”

The Gallery’s units will range from a studio with one bathroom for $755 per month, Milo said, to a three-bedroom, two bathroom unit for $3,000 per month. Amenities include a gym, theater room, outdoor theater, pool, business center, shared office space and lounge area.

Bidding is underway for the 7-story Southside K-8 Center at 945 SW Third Ave., according to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Schools staff plan to make a recommendation to the school board in late spring. The school is expected to open in the fall of 2022, as first reported by The Next Miami.

The high cost of housing relative to teacher pay has been identified as a critical community issue. But the teachers’ union maintains teacher-dedicated housing is the wrong approach.

“If you need to use workforce housing, that simply indicates you’re not paying enough for people to live,” said Antonio White, vice president of United Teachers of Dade.

The union has not recently polled teachers on the project, White said. But past discussions have shown at least some resistance.

“Teachers would prefer to have the income to choose where they want to live,” White said. “Not many people want to live and work in the same place. These units are attached to the school site, so you’re talking about living where you work. Most people think it’s a joke to be offered public housing instead of decent pay.”


Source:  Miami Herald

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