Integra scores approval for waterfront workforce housing project in Florida Keys

It will have 70 low income units, 98 for median income and 112 for moderate income

Victor Ballestas and Wrecker’s Cay
Victor Ballestas and Wrecker’s Cay

Integra Investments is moving forward with its plans to build Wrecker’s Cay Apartments, the largest workforce housing project to be built in the Florida Keys in more than 50 years.

Miami-based Integra, led by developer Victor Ballestas, recently secured approval from Monroe County for the 280-unit development on Stock Island near Key West. Ballestas said the project could break ground by the end of the year or in the first quarter of next year, and be delivered in the middle of 2022.

Unlike most affordable housing, Integra will not be using low-income housing tax credits and instead will be able to sell development rights for market-rate units to help lower the cost of building the project. The firm also has a letter of intent from a bank for construction financing, which will account for 65 percent to 70 percent of the total cost.

“We sort of figured out a way in the Keys to build affordable housing without using tax credits,” Ballestas said.

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Integra assembled the 9-acre development site between December 2017 and April 2018 for $14 million. The properties are: 6325 First Street, 6125 Second Street and 5700 Laurel Avenue on Stock Island.

Wrecker’s Cay will have 70 low income units, 98 medium income units, and 112 moderate income units, according to a press release.

The project is expected to help fill a major need for affordable and workforce housing in the Keys. That need has grown since Hurricane Irma damaged the housing stock about three years ago and more recently due to the impact of the pandemic. Nearly 1,200 homes were destroyed by Irma and nearly 3,000 homes suffered major damage out of 55,000 homes in Monroe, according to the county.

Two years ago, then-Gov. Rick Scott approved a plan to build up to 1,300 new workforce housing units in the Keys.