May 202016
Peary Court: Affordable Housing Deal Goes Through / Units Can Legally Rent For $2709/Month

by Arnaud and Naja Girard…… This must be an all time record for how fast a small City like Key West can vet, vote, and authorize payment on a 12.5 million dollar deal. In just 2 weeks time the City dispatched 12.5 million dollars to a private company that will provide affordable housing [for up to $2709/month] for rent-burdened Key West workers. The last leg of this race to closing played out this week: the County’s Land Authority pledged the entire City reserve plus $300,000 [continue reading…]

Apr 292016
Peary Court: Plan B

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. After 58% of voters rejected the purchase of Peary Court six weeks ago, some City Commissioners have a new plan: give the City’s affordable housing funds to a private company that wants to buy the entire former Navy housing complex on White Street for 60 million dollars. The City would pay the buyer 12.5 million. In exchange, the buyer would deed restrict the 157 existing units and any other units constructed on the 24 plus acre property for use as [continue reading…]

Mar 142016

by Christine Russel……. PEARY COURT:  VOTE NO – THE CHOICE IS OBVIOUS SO THE CITY WANTS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT “AFFORDABLE WORKFORCE HOUSING?” CHOICE A:  VOTE YES: BUY PEARY COURT:  157 UNITS FACT:  Peary Court’s 157 2-bedroom / 1 bathroom units will cost $350,000 each. 157 units that will rent for $2400 a month – affordable for workers who earn the highest salaries. Result: Empty the Land Authority account of 10 Million. Risky 30-year mortgage FOR the remaining balance on $55 MILLION purchase price. If all [continue reading…]

 March 14, 2016  Posted by at 12:07 pm News 5 Responses »
Mar 112016
Peary Court Purchase:  Speculators Win; Key West Loses

Commentary by Dr. Martha K. Huggins……. Key West, an island seven miles long with 7.4 square miles of land mass, is saddled with almost $107 million dollars of long-term debt.   City Commissioners have asked voters to approve yet another $55 million dollars in debt. Their appeal is couched in humanitarian concern for low-paid workers who need “affordable” housing, Ironically, such workers are often employees of the very City Commissioners who want KW government to subsidize housing for their exploited employees. Key West needs affordable housing, [continue reading…]

 March 11, 2016  Posted by at 12:39 am News 14 Responses »
Mar 112016
Commissioner Romero Shares More Information about Peary Court Property

by City Commissioner Margaret Romero……. This note is to update you on recent information I obtained after meetings with Management teams at Keys Energy and Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority regarding Peary Court and the City’s possible exposures and unknown costs. KEYS ENERGY Easement for transmission poles along Palm Ave which sit inside the Peary Court perimeter have yet to be transferred from the current owners to Keys Energy. o   KEYS has an agreement for the owners to do this – but the owners have yet [continue reading…]

 March 11, 2016  Posted by at 12:39 am Island Voices, Issue #157 2 Responses »
Mar 112016
PEARY COURT: It's Just Another Development

by Harry Powell, It’s just another development for Pete’s sake, so nothing special or what we really need. It’s not a “good deal. ” Commissioner Romero is correct. The resolution earmarking “profits to an affordable housing trust fund” is clearly a marketing ploy to convince the voters that “this is a good deal.” Some City officials are asking us to worship this sacred cow of Peary Court “in the name of affordable housing.” It’s not what we need to buy. There is likely going to [continue reading…]

Mar 042016
OPINION: Vote "No" on Peary Court Purchase

by Diane Beruldsen……. I attended recent  affordable housing workshops and felt there were many people who were not getting listened to. The meetings scaled over concerns that the group being protected (those who can afford to pay $2400/month in rent) were the wrong group to protect. For this reason, I wanted to hear the opinions of people in the streets of City of Key West. I set out Sunday, February 28th on bicycle, into Key West and approached anyone I came across to ask if they had an [continue reading…]

 March 4, 2016  Posted by at 12:50 am ~ Opinion ~, Island Voices, Issue #156 21 Responses »
Feb 262016
The Peary Court Referendum: 'It is Impossible to Reach Good Conclusions with Bad Information'

by Commissioner Margaret Romero…….. I will vote “NO” on both referendums concerning Peary Court. I am not convinced there is a good solid business case for such a purchase. I do not find such a purchase in the best interests of our community as a whole. Over 200 financial institutions were made aware of our request for financing of the property, only 1 responded. That response was a conditional response which did not meet the specified requirements. That alone indicates a reason to question this [continue reading…]

 February 26, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am ~ Column ~, Editorial 6 Responses »
Feb 052016
Key West: Your Landlord May Owe You For Overcharging For Rent

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Donald Roberts lives in Peary Court with his mom Ruby.   They rent one of the 48 deed restricted “affordable” units. Their situation is puzzling. With a combined annual income of under $55,850, they qualify for “low-income affordable workforce housing.” Their rent should be $1,571/month, yet they pay around $2,400/month. At that price, their 2-bedroom deed restricted affordable unit at Peary Court is pretty much market rate. So what happened to the hard fought victory that nearly four years ago “saved” 30% [continue reading…]

Feb 052016
Who Owns Peary Court?

by Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D…….. A burning question was finally asked on Wednesday (2/3/2016) in a Key West Citizen Editorial—“Who is White Street Partners?” Well, that’s the wrong question if you’re after Peary Court’s current owners. Peary Court Holdings, LP (a Delaware limited partnership)– registered in Florida as a “foreign partnership”– is Peary Court’s owner of record. However, in fact, the current partners with financial interests in Key West’s Peary Court–who together constitute its owners, include: Peary Court Holdings, LP; White St Partners; and the [continue reading…]

 February 5, 2016  Posted by at 1:28 am ~ Opinion ~, Issue #152, Martha Huggins 49 Responses »
Jan 292016
PEARY COURT PURCHASE / Banks: Thanks, But No Thanks…

BANKING INDUSTRY: ‘THANKS, BUT NO THANKS…’ In preparation for the March 15th referendum on the purchase of Peary Court, the City sent out requests for bids to various banks. The City retained PFM, Inc [Public Financial Management] to help collect those proposals that would provide information on how the City would finance the 55 Million dollar purchase. However, only one bank was interested. But even that bank, Centennial Bank, has rejected one of the fundamental conditions for the deal: The City wants the loan to be secured only [continue reading…]

 January 29, 2016  Posted by at 11:00 am ** BREAKING NEWS ** 20 Responses »
Jan 152016
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Key West’s City Commissioners are considering the purchase of the old Navy housing at Peary Court. According to Commissioner Weekley, the real estate deal will relieve some of the effects of the dire housing crisis that bleeds the island of its workforce. Yet The Blue Paper discovered this week, that the City is also discretely considering loosening its land development regulations, easing the requirement that developers provide affordable housing.

Jan 082016
PEARY COURT / What to do?

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Some recent independent home inspection testing at Peary Court has brought a worrisome result. “My mold assessment led me to advise the tenants to vacate the apartment,” says Hugh Johnson. Johnson is the owner of “Inspect Key West.” He’s a Florida licensed home inspector and mold assessor. On March 15th voters will decide whether the City should purchase the White Street property, including the 49 buildings that were once used as Navy housing.

Jan 032016
Peary Court Deal Already Raising Eyebrows...

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. **UPDATE Jan 5, 2015 6:15 pm**  City Manager pulled the item from the agenda… ~~~~~~~ Surveyors hired by the City want $29,116 for travel, meals, and hotel expenses to inspect the housing units at Peary Court.  The survey is part of the due diligence process associated with the possible purchase by the City of the old Navy housing on White Street. As part of their $165,951 cost estimate, Saltz Michelson Architects, a Fort Lauderdale firm, also wants $61,610 to perform [continue reading…]

Dec 112015
City Should Hire Expert Accountant and Attorney in Field of Large Scale Real Estate Transactions

​Dear Editor, ​As a retired real estate developer,​ I find there are many outstanding questions about the Peary Court purchase​.​ If the average rent, as mentioned in the Citizen, is approximately $2400 (which is not affordable housing rent), how does the purchaser (city) know whether if the rents ​w​ere lowered to make them conform to what might be defined as truly affordable housing rent ($1200.00) ​that the income from the project would support the mortgage, taxes, expenses etc? ​ In addition,​ will city have a committed mortgage [continue reading…]

 December 11, 2015  Posted by at 1:10 am Issue #144, Letter to the Editor 1 Response »
Nov 082013
BASE COMMANDERS CRIED FOUL!  The Sale of Peary Court, A Look Behind the Scenes

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Balfour Beatty, the giant military housing contractor, will soon play its last card in the game of not paying Monroe County $ 11.5 Million in back property taxes.  On November 20th in Key West Balfour’s attorneys will try to convince Judge David Audlin that Florida and federal law exempt private military housing contractors from paying property taxes. Whatever the Court decides it will have far reaching consequences for military bases all over Florida and across the nation. In Monroe County, [continue reading…]

Nov 082013
TWENTY YEARS LATER:  Was Harry Powell Right?

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. NOTE: For years, the large piece of undeveloped Navy property at White Street and Palm Avenue was used as a park by Key Westers. So when the Navy announced that the property, known as Peary Court, was to be developed for military housing, many locals protested. They argued that the Navy really didn’t need any more housing in Key West and, in fact, was in the process of reducing its presence in here. But it was a hard argument to win. [continue reading…]

Jul 122013
PEARY COURT:  One Human Family or Gated Community?

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Is Key West destined to become a patchwork of exclusive gated communities?  If you believe what White Street Partners is saying there is no such plan brewing for the military housing property at Peary Court.  The soon-to-be owners of Peary Court spared no effort trying to convince the audience at its June 27th presentation that the new development will be fully integrated and intertwined into the fabric of our “beautiful community”. The presentation included projections of maps from the 1800’s [continue reading…]