Nonprofit developer awarded affordable housing project in Golden Gate

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Affordable housing is hard to come by, especially in Collier County. Now professionals such as teachers, police officers and nurses are one step closer to finding a place where they can actually afford to live.

A golf course in Golden Gate is slated to be the site of a new affordable housing development. We learned Tuesday how commissioners picked who they say is the right developer for the job.

For-profit developers tried to convince Collier County’s leaders they were best for the job recently. But, in the end, money forced the commissioners to choose a nonprofit builder to create what they call “workforce housing” on an old golf course in Golden Gate.

“Our [$10 million] will not go to a for-profit developer; that is correct,” said Eileen Connolly-Keesler with Collier County Community Foundation. “Because these are charitable dollars.”

This isn’t just any affordable housing project. The Collier County Community Foundation and its partners are thinking big, a unique home for essential workers such as first responders and teachers along with homes for veterans and senior citizens.

“It’s unique for Collier County, and probably would be unique for the state of Florida,” Keesler said. “You usually do not see a philanthropic dollars of this magnitude going into a housing project.”

The goal is to make Collier County affordable for people making between $45,000 and $90,000 annually. The median home right now goes for more than $400,000.

“It was after a needs assessment that showed the community really wants the people living here,” Keesler said. “But we have to make it affordable for them to live here.”

Commissioner Penny Taylor cast the dissenting vote, worried the housing is not really affordable.

The county will now begin negotiations with Rural Neighborhoods, the nonprofit developer that was awarded the project.

Keelser told us she plans to work with all sides to satisfy everyone’s needs and concerns.

Rural Neighborhoods told us it expects the total development cost for 350 apartments to be close to $72,000,000.

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