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Community cuts ribbon at Centre Place development

By Staff | Feb 10, 2010

Dr. Phillip Marks, center, of the Coast & Islands Community Land Trust Board makes his remarks during the official grand opening of Centre Place on Saturday morning.

Sanibel’s newest Below Market Rate Housing community – Centre Place – was officially opened to the public on Saturday as the island’s groundbreaking workforce housing development.

The 14-unit neighborhood, located off of Centre Street, is the brainchild of Community Housing & Resources, Inc. It represents the first venture into affordable housing ownership for qualified municipal, business and non-profit island-based workers. Of the 14 units, eight are being offered for ownership while the remaining six are rentals.

In addition, Centre Place is the first Florida Green and LEED(LEadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-eligible multi-unit neighborhood on Sanibel.

“I think this is a really good community project that will be able to help people out during these rough economic times,” said Rick Kennedy of Kennedy Construction, which has been in business on the island since 1980. “It’s always easy to say that it’s just another project for us, but we put a lot into this development. It’s one of the best built and prettiest community housing projects we’ve ever done.”

Kennedy noted that the actual construction of the homes began in July 2009 and took approximately seven months to complete.

The 14-unit Centre Place community is beautifully planned, landscaped and is very welcoming.

According to Scott Marcelais, CHR’s executive director, City Council is anticipated to grant final plat approval for the development at their Feb. 16 meeting. Once that is done, residents should begin moving in to Centre Place by March 1.

“We’re just putting the finishing touches on everything right now,” he said. “And we came in pretty much on budget. There was a period in September when we got a lot of rain, but that really didn’t set us back too far.”

Some of the “green” features incorporated within the Centre Place project includes:

All Energy Star appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, water heater)

All lighting compact fluorescent

Mike Cuscaden and Dr. Phillip Marks pose in front of one of the buildings and lush landscaping, which is 100 percent native and needs no extra irrigation.

Low flow toilets and shower heads

High efficiency air conditioning units with use puron (instead of freon)

Isocyne foam insulation in attic space

Recycled material (TREX) used in stairs and balcony lanais

High impact-resistant windows (150 mph rating)

All shell or gravel roads and driveways (no asphalt or cement)

100 percent native vegetation and no irrigation system

On Friday, CHR invited the public to tour the neighborhood, conducting an open house of the two- and three-bedroom units at the site. Dorothy Simpson, a member of the Coast & Islands Community Land Trust committee, was thrilled with the appearance of the development.

“I think this is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “I think that it’s great for Sanibel to have affordable housing for people who actually work here.”

Dr. Phillip Marks, president of the Coast & Islands Community Land Trust board, noted that the addition of Centre Place bring the island’s total of BMRH units on Sanibel to 101.

“Between the availability of grants and the downpayment assistance program, it makes the housing payments affordable. It’s like they’re walking in with free money to begin with,” said Marks. “In many cases, these people are paying less for housing payments than they used to in rent.”

Before financial assistance, three-bedroom units in the development sell for $218,000 while two-bedroom units sell for $198,000. Buyers may be eligible for $25,000 to $70,000 in grants, depending upon their income.

Marcelais added that CHR has received about 60 to 70 rental applications, along with 20 applications from potential home buyers.

For additional information, visit www.sanibelhousing.org or call 472-1189.