The Real Deal Miami

Miami affordable housing wave continues with $100 million Carlisle Brownsville project

By Alexander Britell | June 23, 2010 07:00PM

Carlisle targets transit nodes for green development

The Brownsville Transit Village Apartments are a $100 million, five-phase affordable housing development

Three weeks after breaking ground on the Beacon, a $25 million, eco-friendly affordable housing tower in Overtown, developer Carlisle Development Group took the first shovel today to a $100 million, five-phase complex in Brownsville, continuing a new wave of affordable Miami-Dade housing developments led by the company.

The Brownsville Transit Village Apartments, a 467-unit development at 5200 NW 27 Avenue, will be a LEED-certified community, with the first phase, the Everett Stewart Sr. Village, slated for completion in 12 to 16 months.

The project highlights the company’s tendency to target locations near local transportation, a way of adding extra “green” to the buildings in ways that may not show up in a LEED certification, said CEO Matthew Greer. Green or not, Carlisle has been able to navigate a financing climate in which local funding has largely dried up, and construction of most new private buildings has ground to a halt.

“Our goal has always been to be the largest company doing what we do, by [looking at] new housing starts, and I think we’re making good progress,” Greer said.

The LEED certification for the Brownsville development follows the ground breaking of another eco-friendly project, the Beacon, at 1000 N.W. 1st Avenue, early in the month.

Carlisle, the largest affordable housing developer in Florida, was the first to build a LEED-certified affordable development in the Southeast, the Tallman Pines in Deerfield Beach.

Carlisle has been the leader in a wave of affordable housing development in Miami-Dade County, with 12 projects set for ground breaking in the near future, in addition to the 65 projects the company has either completed or are already underway.

Greer has been able to navigate the firm through a sometimes difficult climate for new development.

“The best way to summarize [the climate right now] is God giveth and God taketh away,” Greer said. “There are new sources out there that are a result of the stimulus funding, and there’s a renewed desire by some communities to stimulate jobs and stimulate activity around housing and development. That’s a very positive picture.”

But, Greer cautioned, while federal funding has contributed to affordable housing development a great deal, there is a deficit at the local level.

“At the same time, you have dramatically reduced, or even non-existent public financing at the state and local level. And you have a much higher bar, or return requirement for private funds that make those funds a lot less effective in helping stimulate new affordable housing. What they do is hit different projects differently.”

Financing problems stalled one project, the Barbara Carey Shuler Manor development, for nearly five years.

Shuler Manor was finally able to break ground last week at its 1400 NW 54th Street site in Liberty City. The $28 million Carrfour Supportive Housing-developed project is a 100-unit, eight-story high-rise that will include housing for the formerly homeless and affordable housing.

The Barbara Carey Shuler Manor development in Liberty City

Stephanie Berman, president of Carrfour Supportive Housing, said her organization, five years after planning the project, had been able to find federal and local financing.

“This project, along with a lot of other affordable housing projects, has been the beneficiary of some of the stimulus money that’s come of late,” Berman said. “We were about to close on all of the financing when the economy started to turn, and the project got stalled.”