Within the last year, Florida passed a new law that enables building developers to bypass certain zoning codes. To do so, they must provide affordable housing structures, otherwise known as “workforce housing.” A real estate dispute is now simmering between a luxury mall owner and residents of the surrounding affluent community.
For years now, the mall owner, a development company, has wanted to erect a hotel near the mall, where brand name items like Gucci, Prada and Rolex are sold. Each time the developers applied for approval to build the hotel, local officials have shot it down. When the affordable housing law kicked in, it gave them a loophole through which they could bring their project to fruition.
240 affordable housing units at the center of the real estate dispute
The developers’ plan includes a 20-story hotel, plus 600 residential units. To meet the affordable housing regulations, the developers promised to list 240 of the 600 units as workforce housing. The project immediately sparked discord in the surrounding community, where the average income is well above the state median. The president of a local civic association in Bal Harbour said that he has lived in the village all his life and believes this project will be a great detriment to the community.
The CEO of the development company acknowledged that affordable housing units were not part of his original project plan for the hotel. However, the new law provided an opportunity, which he believes will help solve a national real estate shortage, as well as provide workforce housing to those in need, perhaps including teachers, restaurant employees and others who work in the area but cannot afford to live there. His company has filed a lawsuit asking the courts to enforce the Live Local Act. In a real estate dispute of this magnitude, it is always best to seek counsel and support from an experienced real estate law attorney ahead of proceedings.