Ex-NFLer Jonathan Vilma proposes 102-unit affordable housing project on Palm Beach County church site

Property is near town of Haverhill

Jonathan Vilma Plans Palm Beach County Affordable Rentals
Jonathan Vilma and 1473 North Haverhill Road (Getty, Google Maps)

Super Bowl winner Jonathan Vilma proposes a 102-unit affordable housing project on a church site in Palm Beach County, marking continued redevelopment of South Florida’s religious properties. 

Vilma, who also is a former University of Miami football star, partnered with the West Palm Beach Seventh Day Baptist Church to request changes in the development regulations to allow for a new church building and the apartment complex on the 3.4-acre site at 1473 North Haverhill Road, according to county records. The site is in unincorporated Palm Beach County, near the town of Haverhill. 

West Palm Beach Seventh Day Baptist Church, led by President Jasmine Lynch, owns the property and has a 1,200-square-foot worship hall on it, records show. The proposed worship hall would span 5,000 square feet, the filing shows. 

The developers submitted an application last month to the county seeking an amendment to the comprehensive plan, which is the county’s development guide. The request is to allow for a bigger project than current regulations permit through the transfer of development rights. Under the proposal, all of the units in a project have to be designated for households earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income. 

At Palm Beach County’s annual AMI of $104,000, a one-person household can earn up to $45,000 annually to qualify for a unit, and a two-person household can earn up to $51,420, according to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. The restrictions allow up to $57,840 in annual income for a three-person household and up to $64,260 for a four-person household. 

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Vilma, who grew up in Coral Gables, played for the New York Jets and was a New Orleans Saints linebacker, including when the team won a Super Bowl in 2010. Following his retirement, he has been an NFL analyst on Fox Sports. 

His real estate investments have included backing the defunct Urbin co-living and co-working brand by developer and former Location Ventures CEO Rishi Kapoor. Kapoor and Location Ventures have been in freefall over the past year, amid numerous lawsuits alleging unpaid debts and unrealized investor returns. Among the legal claims, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Kapoor and his former Coral Gables-based company last year claiming over 50 investors were defrauded out of $93 million in failed real estate projects. Location Ventures is in receivership. 

Across South Florida, investors and builders have turned to religious real estate for redevelopment opportunities. 

In Fort Lauderdale, developers Tal Levinson and Eric Malinasky plan a six-story, 160-unit apartment building at 500-534 Northwest Ninth Avenue. Shaw Temple AME Zion Church, which is on one of the lots, will be moving elsewhere in the city. In downtown West Palm Beach, Steve Ross’ Related Companies and Frisbie Group propose a 190-unit condo project with a 28-story building and a 32-story tower on the Family Church property at 1101 South Flagler Drive. The main worship hall would be preserved, and other portions of the campus, including a school, would be rebuilt. 

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