Affordable Housing: Navy Announces Movement Towards Reopening of Sigsbee Park Townhomes

On the affordable housing front:

Some news came from the US Navy this week regarding the 166 units of vacant housing located on Sigsbee Island.

A Request for Interest (RFI) was issued this week by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast to seek information on “how developers could open the 166 vacant townhomes located on the Sigsbee Park Annex at Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West.”

In January of 2016 the Key West City Commission unanimously passed a resolution asking City Manager Jim Scholl to work with the Navy toward the re-opening of those vacant Sigsbee housing units. The units have been unoccupied for close to seven years.

“This is something that can create affordable housing for hundreds of people and will not cost the city of Key West one penny,” Commissioner Sam Kaufman, who sponsored the item, said at the time. Kaufman also reached out to Congressman Carolos Curbelo.

A letter, dated February 29, 2016, signed by representatives Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Frederica Wilson was sent to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus:

“The City of Key West faces a severely limited availability of affordable housing due to a multitude of reasons limiting new construction including the need for safe evacuation routes in the event of a natural disaster and mitigating environmental concerns.”

They made a specific request:

“Given the acute shortage of housing in Key West which affects the Navy and the city alike we urge you to expedite returning the housing units at Sigsbee Park to active use.”

The Navy responded favorably and the request has been making its way through normal military decision making channels ever since.

The 166 units in question weren’t included in the Navy’s original public/private partnership with GMH Communities Trust in October 2007. [GMH later became Balfour Beatty Communities.]

Balfour Beatty oversees 733 military family housing units located on various parcels at Truman Annex, Trumbo Point, Sigsbee, and the Naval Branch Health Clinic.
The Sigsbee units had been bachelor housing, open to any Department of Defense civilian employee, until the Navy moved those people to the barracks at Truman. Water and electricity were then shut off to those units which have been in “caretaker” status since August 2010.

According to a press release, “NAS Key West is seeking to lease the 166 Sigsbee Park townhouses to improve the condition of the property through in-kind consideration and provide needed affordable housing for local junior DoD workforce personnel and their families.”

The RFI asks for information on how an interested developer could renovate, redevelop, and/or otherwise utilize the 166 units. The chosen developer would enter into a ground lease [under 10 U.S.C. 2667] allowing the developer to manage the property.

The Navy is preparing an Industry Forum, to take place on July 12, 2017. The Industry Forum will provide an opportunity for Navy and industry personnel to meet for a question and answer session and site visit to the existing townhomes. The site visit will allow potential responders to walk the premises and visually inspect the townhomes.

The Industry Forum is open only to potential developers vetted through NAVFAC Southeast. Detailed RFI Information can be found at bb4067037b186d517a88808e67dceb 4d.

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