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AIDS Healthcare Foundation Says It Will Modify Design For Low-Income Housing In Fort Lauderdale

AIDS Healthacre Foundation
Caitie Switalski
Protestors rallied on behalf of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation development outside of Fort Lauderdale City Hall in early January 2019.

The nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) told WLRN Monday that it is rethinking plans for a controversial low-income apartment complex being planned near the city's Downtown.

AHF received widespread criticism from neighbors and city officials about the size of the units and the development's location and density. 

"Overall, we've heard the concerns of the community and of the commission," Southern Bureau Chief for AHF Michael Kahane told WLRN. "We will do what it takes to make this a reality for the folks that so desperately need it."

AHF had planned to construct 680 micro-apartments, some as small as 263 square feet. The new plan features 500 apartments, plus a parking garage and retail space to include a grocery store.

Kahane said rent payments are expected to stay under an estimated $500 per month. He also said the changes will not set AHF behind on its timeline.

The changes come as a way for AHF to try and address claims that the first design didn't match the city's vision for downtown as laid out in the Downtown Master Plan. That plan encourages developers to consider mixed-use buildings in the area.

Read More: AIDS Healthcare Foundation Responds To Criticism Of Fort Lauderdale Affordable Housing Development

"We hope we'll garner support from the community," the project's lead architect Margi Nothard said. "I think we really did listen, but we are keeping the main ideas."

Kahane said "affordability is still key." 

Across Broward County, the majority of households are cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent, and even 50 percent of their monthly income only on rent. The average rent in Broward County tops $1,800 per month, according to county data.

The Foundation is also planning to fund a new substation for emergency and EMS services in the area, which includes the Rio Vista neighborhood. Some residents had complained at meetings and on social media that adding a large apartment building would overburden existing EMS services.

The EMS substation would be located at the corner of 7th Street and 4th Avenue.

Kahane said the EMS substation was a decision in part, "to try to show everyone that we want to be good neighbors."

The Foundation has not completed its new design, but expects to present modifications to City of Fort Lauderdale staff within the coming months.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, currently leads the WLRN Newsroom as Interim Managing Editor. Prior to transitioning to leadership from production, Caitie reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.