Ten years after opening Lotus House in a handful of rehabbed buildings in Overtown, the shelter will go before the city of Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board on Wednesday with plans for a new $25 million development.
With the majority of financing in hand, Lotus House is ready to break ground in June on a new state-of-the-art shelter that will replace its five aging buildings, President and Executive Director Constance Collins told The Real Deal on a tour of the existing property, which serves as a shelter for women, youth and children.
On a daily basis, Lotus House currently serves about 250 women and children. “This will allow us to go to 500,” she told TRD.
As planned, the new shelter calls for a computer library; yoga, exercise and meditation room; an art and activities lab; a children’s wellness center; a trauma-focused daycare; full health clinic with women’s wellness and pediatrics; a dining pavilion; beauty salon; vegetable garden; teaching kitchen and more. It’s slated to open on the same Overtown property in September 2017.
Collins, who has a background in commercial real estate, said that planning the development is “the best of both worlds.” She said the current buildings are makeshift and “not suited to what we do.” Lotus Village will span 120,000 square feet and include 140 living units. Standard rooms will be about 405 square feet with a bathroom, changing area and refrigerator, as well as plenty of natural light.
“We really have the opportunity to design this facility in a way that is meaningful for us,” she told TRD, explaining that the garden will connect to the kitchen, for example. A community pavilion will also host book readings, movie viewings, live concerts and performances, dance workshops and speakers.
Miami developer Martin Margulies, Bilzin Sumberg, and Behar Font Architects are working with Lotus House on the new building. Collins said the Lotus Endowment Fund has launched a five-year capital campaign that will also support the long-term operations of Lotus Village. She has also secured $19 million in financing from US Trust/Bank of America. Naming options from gardens and the intake sanctuary to individual rooms are available, she said. Collins is also looking for in-kind donations, like paint and concrete.
With a grant from the Braman Family Charitable Foundation, the shelter purchased additional parcels. In total, the land in the 200 block of Northwest 15th Street, is slightly more than an acre. Since September, the Lotus foundation bought 15,960 square feet for a combined $465,500, property records show.
The last hearing is June 1 with the city’s planning and zoning board. The foundation is requesting rezoning for civic services, as well as for a special exception. It will remain operational throughout construction by keeping two buildings on the north side open and by renting apartments in the neighborhood.
As it stands, “We’re turning over well over 2,000 women and children a year,” Collins said.