After more than a year of legal wrangling which kept the project stalled, construction of Reliance Housing Foundation’s affordable housing community at Calabash Boom is progressing on schedule and officials are celebrating with a ground breaking ceremony on Monday morning, June 30.
While construction of the apartments on site is well underway, the ground breaking ceremony is for the town homes portion of the project.
Residents are expected to start moving in to the apartments at Calabash Boom in January 2009, according to Reliance president Robert Jackson.
“We’ll finish the apartments by July, but we’ll have our first people moving in by January,” said Jackson. “We’re moving right along. The apartments are well under way.”
“We’ve started building six of the eight buildings already,” Jackson added.
Plans for the affordable housing community consist of 48 for-rent apartment units in eight buildings and 24 for-sale duplex town homes on about eight acres of property along Southshore Road across from Johnson Bay.
Part of the festivities on June 30 will take place in the newly renovated community building on site.
“The community building is completely renovated now,” Jackson said.
Construction of the town homes is expected to be complete by July 2009 as well, Jackson added.
Reliance will begin accepting applications for occupancy in the fall.
“We’ll be putting a notice in the local media in another couple of months about occupancy — probably in September and October,” said Jackson. “The notice will include information about how to do the preliminary application. It will be the same system as Bellevue Village.”
The road from permitting to construction was a long one for Reliance. The Florida-based housing company’s plans were hampered by a long legal battle with an ad-hoc community group called Friends of Coral Bay.
Reliance first obtained a major Coastal Zone Management permit for the Calabash Boom project in December 2006. Friends of Coral Bay first took their concerns about the project to District Court in January 2007, when Judge Curtis Gomez issued a temporary restraining order.
The TRO lapsed in February 2007 and the St. John CZM Committee voted to okay a modification to Reliance’s original permit allowing the developer to use existing wells for potable water instead of the originally planned reverse osmosis facility.
After the CZM Committee’s vote, Friends of Coral Bay appealed their decision before the Board of Land Use Appeals.
In July 2007, BLUA heard the appeal and upheld the St. John CZM Committee’s ruling. It would be several more months before BLUA would issue their ruling in writing as required and the Calabash Boom site sat idle in the meantime.
It would take almost another eight months before Reliance officials were given the green light to proceed at the Calabash Boom site, with the last hurdle being cleared in spring 2008. Since then construction has been steadily progressing.