Three months after a contentious preliminary zoning hearing in front of the Miami City Commission, homeless shelter Lotus House won approval for its much anticipated expansion. City commissioners unanimously voted on Thursday to grant zoning changes for several parcels around Lotus’ current site at 217 Northwest 15th Street.
Amid cheers from supporters and dozens of homeless women who live at Lotus, shelter President and Executive Director Constance Collins praised commissioners for allowing her to move forward with her $25 million redevelopment plan. “Thank you so much,” Collins said. “This is really life-saving and we appreciate it.”
Collins wants to redevelop the Lotus House campus into a modern, five-story complex with courtyards, fountains, community rooms, training centers and a full-fledged wellness center open to the surrounding neighborhood. To facilitate the construction, Collins secured a $19 million construction loan undersigned by art collector and developer Martin Margulies that Lotus House plans to pay back with funds from $25 million in private donations the shelter plans to raise.
Since 2006, Lotus House has provided a safe haven for women and children living in the streets. The shelter currently houses 250 homeless people.
In a previous interview with The Real Deal, Collins said a new village will total 120,000 square feet with 140 liviing units; 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. The expansion will allow Lotus House to provide beds for 500 residents, a 50 percent increase over its current capacity.
Back in April, Lotus House was forced to wait for its zoning approval following complaints from City Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon that Collins had not done enough to get input from Overtown residents.