Thursday, September 22, 2011

NSP2 Grant - Lake Worth CRA

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The Lake Worth CRA Consortium applied for and received $23,237,500 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Redevelopment (HUD) on January 14, 2010. This funding is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and is better known as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Funding will be primarily used to purchase, rehabilitate and demolish foreclosed homes within the City of Lake Worth. Some funding will also be available to provide homebuyer counseling, "green" maintenance, financing and subsidy programs for working class individuals. The Consortium consists of 20 community based organizations and local companies.

One thing that we know for sure, the CRA must spend all of this grant money within the allotted time or they will lose the money. A lot of good things can come from this grant.
  • We have to spend 50% ($11,618,750.00) of our grant by February 11, 2012
  • We have to spend 100% ( $23,237,500.00) of our grant by February 11, 2013
  • We have spent 25% ($5,726,495) as of September 19, 2011
Last night the Planning & Zoning Board met to discuss a proposed CRA project that will be funded with the NSP2, specifically, a townhouse development which was unbeknown to me as there was no backup. Knowing that time is of the essence with the NSP2 grant, the P&Z tried to accommodate the CRA by having this on the Agenda. It is a proposal to build 13 townhouses on Lake and Lucerne. The P&Z is there to make recommendations before a final plan is submitted to them for approval. It is their job to make decisions in the best interest of Lake Worth. This was only a workshop to gather information, discuss, recommend, etc.

The public showed up en masse again, rallied for the purpose to persuade the P&Z that anything built in that area is better than nothing at all. Some were even close to being insolent about it. The P&Z, and rightfully so, was concerned about townhouses in general. The simple fact is hundreds of units that have been built in our city are empty, in foreclosure and are bringing down the values of nearby residences. When Cara Jennings recalled the mistake on The Lucerne, she got dissed by the audience. But Jennings is correct and taking a responsible approach.

My first impression of this was that some developer who had some plans for 3,000 s.f. townhouses had discovered/found sucker Lake Worth with a CRA that has a lot of money...a place that he could perhaps dump his project with the idea that they would be artist studios--studios on first levels and living arrangements upstairs. How convenient for him. He would get his money and get out. They looked like cookie cutters all in a row. In fact, 50 years ago, this type of housing was called Row Houses. The first ones I ever saw were in Philadelphia. I had never seen anything like it and hated them on sight. I was used to beautiful single family houses that all looked different.

The biggest question I had in my mind was, how would a poor artist afford a 3,000 s.f. townhouse? The developer, as well as Joan Oliva, Director of the CRA, could not even give an answer as to what someone would have to pay for one of these...not even a guess. No clue. The average working person can not afford a 3,000 s.f. house nor would many of them even want one. And these are being built for poor people.

How do they even know that anyone would buy one? The setbacks don't look that favorable and it appears to have way too much impervious surface. One thing we don't want are just more townhouses for townhouses sake with them eventually sitting empty causing more slum and blight. The roofs will be flat and we will end up seeing many people sitting on their roof tops, drying laundry no doubt. Instead of 20 immigrants living in one, these will be so big that you can probably get quadrupled occupancy. The deed restriction will have a 15 year restriction.

The P&Z Board did the right thing last night. Just because the CRA is in a rush doesn't mean that they should be.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

So I take it from your comments that you would prefer to see single family homes on both sides of Lucerne West of the tracks?

The flat roofs, like Publix, are a product of height restrictions nearly prohibiting nice looking pitched roofs that might extend above 30 to 35 feet.

It sounded like the CRA was being called on the carpet for doing just what they were supposed to do. Part of the NSP was to offer live/work space for artists, since we are an artistic community already and it is hard to find affordable studio space (large).

William Waters asked them to offer different options and floor plans in case the artist lofts didn't sell and the CRA was admonished for giving those optional floor plans.

Linda Mahoney wanted amenities such as a sauna or a pool. This is affordable housing.

Thai type of delay will lose the grant money for the city and we will have a vacant lot there. Will THAT make you happy? Oh yes, those nice single family homes that make that area so quaint...

Lynn Anderson said...

People have a tendency to get very angry in this city.

The CRA needs to bring a decent project to the P&Z. I didn't hear the CRA being admonished for a different floor plan if say these townhouses did not attract an artist but just a poor person who could have a bedroom there instead of a studio. The P&Z is supposed to ask questions and their questions need to be comprehensive.

Personally, I don't give a hot damn about what goes there. I just don't want more empty freakin townhouses that look like boxes surrounded by pavement.

If there is any delay, blame it on the CRA, not the P&Z for this project that came to them with NO backup until the last minute. They should spend this money on houses, not trying to spend their money quickly on an ugly townhouse project.

I don't care how many times this comes before the P&Z. This is about doing the right thing here, not just for developers to make a quick buck.

Rally your troops to put pressure on the CRA to come back with some decent changes that will be attractive to that area, not just more cement boxes.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Calling the project "ugly" is just yours and Linda Mahoney's opinion. I love it. I live in LW. I pay taxes in LW. I work in LW. I am "the people" that Mohoney says she represents and I like it. But really the P&Z and Commission only represent one person, the omnipotent Cara Jennings. If you or I showed up an hour late and asked to re-do a full presentation, that would never happen. I am sick of driving down Lake and Lucerne west of Dixie and seeing a $#!+ hole. Everyone I've talked to who has seen the drawings loved it. "The people" actually were at the meeting and they all loved it. Cara and her P&Z puppets want to sabotage the CRA and NSP grant because they cannot stand to see progress and improvement in LW. They can't stand to see someone succeed with something because they cannot succeed at anything but sabotaging the future of the City. I see lots of drug addicts, prostitutes, criminals, illegal immigrants, and homeless people moving into LW everyday, but every middle class, hard-working person I know is either already moved out of the City or working on it. Just like Publix, this project is a chance to see some actual positive change - a rare occurrence around here. With all due respect to you and your blog, I think it's a beautiful project and I don't care who came up with it. A good project is a good project, regardless of whose idea it is.

Lynn Anderson said...

Opinion does matter. We all will have to live with this project once it is built. So, thanks for yours.

Now, in my opinion, accusing the P&Z of sabotaging this project is far from the truth. In fact, it is the CRA who is jamming it down the throats of the entire P&Z Board.

Please tell me what you thought was beautiful about this development? Maybe I overlooked something that was shown to the public last night.

Anonymous said...

How come the CRA has never cleaned up the slum and blight in the city? Why is that? You want to blame Dixie Hwy, Lake & Lucerne on who? Put the blame where it belongs-the CRA. I don't know where the CRA has spent the money but I agree, the CRA district looks like a S**thole and most of the SH%t is in their district. Tell them to do the dang job. Tell them also to stop ramming bad crappy boxes and working behind the scenes to get public support
on this.

Anonymous said...

Politics should be kept out of stuff like this. This is why we have a P&Z board to stop this sort of thing. For far too many years, townhouse developers along with the issuance of variances to these developers, etc. have been dished out like candy. Nice to see we have a responsible board at least.
Ray M.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the empty townhouses you speak of? Many are selling for affordable prices to new younger residents that are paying taxes and utilities, and now asessments. Also spending their money downtown. What's wrong with that? Even if they're rented?
The CRA worked hard to get the NSP grant despite the fact that commissioners Jennings and Golden did not want them to even apply for the grant. So natuarlly the CRA is to blame.
Don't know if you caught that. Commissioners Jennings and Golden did not want the CRA to apply for the grant. Now the PnZ is packed with their cronies and you're trying to say they're NOT intentionally trying to hold up the project? Bet the IG finds a different result? Bet Stanton's also caught up in it for intentionally delaying transferring titles to city owned property?

Anonymous said...

If you don't give a "hot damn" about what they put there, why would you write such a negative story about what is being proposed there? Personally I like looking at a vacant overgrown lot every day. I think we should have more around the city.

Lynn Anderson said...

You know, you're not going to be happy until everyone you like comes onto city boards and are elected so that we can go back to the crap of yesteryear. I never have heard someone sling it that way you do. You should be a cook in a hash house.

Now you want to get the IG involved.

Anonymous said...

TAKE BACK THE CRA. GOLDEN WAS RIGHT.

Anonymous said...

I don't care who's on the boards as long as they have the qualifications. What are Mahoney's qualifications? Larry's? I know he said attending EVERY city meeting qualified him to be mayor. But does it really? What are any of their qualifications? You always complain about politics. I guess you can't see that appointing unqualified political allies to city boards is hurtful to the city. Maybe you missed the news. The same group appointed a cop hating loser to the Board that's supposed to work with the police?

Lynn Anderson said...

Ok--you asked a good question--what are anyone's qualifications? Anyone on a board has to take the high road and get over the poltiics. You all are not doing that. The CRA stacked the room last night and these people made it poltiical.

The CRA, as stated previously, better come back with a plan that incorporates the suggestions of the P&Z. Simple stuff.

I didn't miss any news. The P&Z is not the Commission. It did a stupid thing with their appointment for the CRB. Scarcasm works for me.

Anonymous said...

I think the LULA concept is a good one, LW has a vibrant and growing art community and it makes sense to have some work/live spaces for artists. WPB is doing a similar project in Northwood.

And while I'm not a fan of a lot of the townhome projects that have been approved in LW, mostly b/c they were poorly planned and should not have been approved. Poorly planned in that there was not enough on site parking, set backs were inappropriate, lack of adequate green space, negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Townhomes could be done well.

But I have similar questions, if we are undertaking this project how does the CRA restrict the neighborhood to artists, how do we encourange them to come to LW, is this somehow deed restricted to a certain occupation, is that even legal?

Anonymous said...

I'm with someone who posted earlier regarding the cra and why they have not done a thing about slum and blight. How come? They get tax money every year to do something. They are all a mysterious bunch who have given their director leeway to do anything she wants. They even give her big raises every year. Irresponsible is not the word for them. why are they qualified to have a budget this big? Who died and left them boss?

Anonymous said...

IS EVERYONE STUPID? MORE TOWNHOUSES? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING, RIGHT?

Anonymous said...

You cannot deed restrict what type of people occupy a particular unit we learned last night. The project as you see it was designed based on what William Waters said were the criteria. They meet and exceed the current zoning for the property. The P&Z didn't want to hear the case to give their input. Hence the negativity against it.

They are NOT double stacked on the lot and other deficiencies noted by someone above such as a break between a few units, which Mr. Waters pointed out. They have roof-top access which drew criticism from Chair Mahoney due to noise if an occupant was to play music from there. The comment that people would hang clothes to dry on the roof was a good one too. Why... would their dryer not work?

The Board wanted them to add more green space when we can only water once a week and many have lawns that are dead and causing further loss of property values. The audience was not stacked with CRA members. Two were there and only one spoke, and then only to address the need to expedite the program or we will lose the grant money.

The poster above's comment is well taken that the ones who were against applying for this grant also appoint people to a board who do everything in their power to stop or delay due to it's possibility to cause "gentrification".

I had not seen the project until last night and I don't like the townhouses that were built in the recent past, but I liked this project at THIS location.

Anonymous said...

The CRA didn't make this political, the P&Z did. They had their minds made before anyone said a word and before they even saw the project. That was sooo obvious. What's political is nix everything the CRA tries to do positive for the City because their cronies don't run the CRA like every other board and position in LW. They tried to stack that board too, even used intimidation against the board members, but it hasn't worked, so all they have left is stifle CRA work at every turn - or at least try to (e.g. Publix). I still hold out hope that there are more rationale residents in LW than not, only problem is they have jobs, and families, and houses, and a real life, so they don't go to meetings.

Anonymous said...

Opinions matter, but at the end of the day, somebody's opinion has to lose out. It is impossible to get 100% agreement on anything in life, but in LW it's a split down party lines every time. So if the criteria for any new building in this City IS we all have to agree it is beautiful, then we shall continue to get what we've got... NADA .. exactly what the Cara Cabal wants ... NOTHING. If that is what the true majority of LW wants, then that is fair. But I don't believe that thought is the majority, just the minority view has figured out how to control our town. Please wake up and vote them out. November will be here soon and I'm hoping for some change.

Anonymous said...

How can I sign up for one. I love them, and would like to be first on the list to buy one....

Anonymous said...

Afraid to print my post about the ugly condos along Lake Osborne.
You have no guts!!!!

Lynn Anderson said...

I didn't print your post because it was a personal attack. Insulting my home will not get you points. I don't go to your house in College Park or wherever and say, wow, what an ugly piece of crap.

I have a different opinion than you on the CRA Lucerne townhouse project. That does not mean I have to take your personal attacks on MY blog. So let's be an adult and debate the topic rather than resorting to personal insults.

Greg Rice said...

The city can not sustain itself on our downwardly spiralling residential property tax base. Single family homes on a main commercial corridor is not the best use of property in that zoning district. Just because that might be what's there now does not mean that's what needs to be there now. We need something new down on that end of town to encourage others to come in and revitalize our western part of downtown.

Lynn Anderson said...

I have no argument with that, Greg. Let's just not approve something to approve something. Get it right.

Anonymous said...

In the last few years, since Stanton has been the CM when have we gotten anything Right?????

Anonymous said...

The CRA has a very bad track record in giving proper notice to our city boards. This was the first tome that the P&z had seen these butt ugly town homes-being pawned off as "artists" lofts. Saint Joan made sure that the room was packed with lots of her old rejects,like Shannon Matterio.Ah for the good old days when poeple like Shannon arrogantly threw millions of our taxpayer dollars down the sewer!Follow the money. Which one of her developer freinds is the growth whore Joan throwing the dollars to?Wish I was poor enought o get a 3,000 sq foot place to squat in!Srew the CRA-they SUCK!!!!!

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