BY WILLIE HOWARD | THE PALM BEACH POST | JANUARY 2, 2012
LAKE WORTH — Designs for a dozen townhomes intended to provide space for artists to live and work while improving neighborhoods west of Dixie Highway are scheduled to come before city commissioners Tuesday .
Four buildings holding two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhomes with art studios on the ground floor and living space above are being proposed by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency for two sites near Lucerne Avenue and F Street.
The artist townhome project is expected to cost $4 million to $5 million and would be built using funds from a $23.2 million federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant, CRA Executive Director Joan Oliva said.
If the commission approves the designs of the four buildings Tuesday, contractor Canatelli Builders of Pompano Beach will begin the process of obtaining permits and advertising for subcontractors to build the townhomes.
Oliva said she hopes construction can begin early next summer, meaning the townhomes would be complete by early 2013.
Architect Jim Perry of Fort Lauderdale, who designed the townhomes, said two of the buildings are post-modern in style, with porthole-style windows on each end.
A third building is considered modern, with a flat roof and modular look. A fourth's style is contemporary Florida, with clapboard sides, trellises over the balconies and windows accented with shutters.
All four buildings will be designed to meet Florida Green Building Coalition guidelines for energy and water conservation.
Cary Sabol, chairman of the CRA board, said the townhomes will help the agency achieve two of its primary goals: fighting blight by replacing substandard housing with modern dwellings; and attracting artists to the city, part of the agency's LULA Lake Worth Arts plan to use art as an economic development tool.
"Because there are so many run-down properties in that area, I feel it is important that the CRA do whatever possible to make the maximum impact on this important vein of Lake Worth," Sabol said. "The arts loft project will not only attract local artists but will set a higher standard for development in the downtown corridor."
Oliva said the townhomes will be sold for market value after they are completed. She estimated the selling prices at $90,000 to $110,000.
The townhomes will be sold to qualified buyers who meet income guidelines on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify, a buyer cannot earn more than 120 percent of the area median income for Palm Beach County - $73,080 for a family of two.
"We already have a lot of interest in them," Oliva said, adding that anyone interested in buying a townhome or other home built under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant program should call the CRA office at (561) 493-2550 or download an application at the agency's website, www.lakeworthcra.org.