Boynton’s plan gives developers more incentive for workforce housing
By Alexandra Seltzer - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Boynton Beach: Meet workforce housing.
It’s been a while.
The city has had rules to guide developers interested in building for the workforce, but the program hasn’t been successful. Months ago, Mayor Steven Grant and Commissioner Christina Romelus pushed city staff to redo the rules and make building these units more attractive.
The result was a proposed new ordinance that offers developers incentives to want to build this housing, similar to programs nearby in West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.
Here’s some of the basics:
- The old rules made building workforce housing mandatory. Now, it’s voluntary.
- The city is now offering density and height bonuses if workforce housing is built in the downtown district.
- If the developer doesn’t want to build this housing, an in-lieu fee can be paid instead.
Workforce housing is priced for residents who make 80 percent to 120 percent of the average median income. In Boynton, the median income in 2016 was $47,580 compared to $65,400 in the county.
Housing officials describe the residents being out-priced as your next door neighbor: police officers, firefighters, teachers, home health care aides, road rangers and housekeepers in gated country clubs communities.
Here’s an example of how the new rules could work:
Take a rental project of 270 units on 3.379 acres of land. With the 25 percent density bonus of 20 units per acre, the developer is allowed to build 67 additional units for a total of 337. The developer can either build workforce housing for 10 percent of total density, which would be 34 units, or pay $624,926. That money would go to building workforce housing elsewhere in the city.
Plus there are other options.
“The key to our program is it’s voluntary, flexible and incentivized to produce units,” said Andrew Mack, the city’s director of development.
Romelus said she would have liked to see rules more “stringent,” but was overall pleased with the changes.
“I’m just happy this at least this is now going to come out and be in place and we can start at least moving toward the right direction of creating housing for people that live here not just that can visit here,” she said, adding the city has a duty to make sure those who work in Boynton can also live in Boynton.
The commission will vote one last time, likely in September, to make the new rules official. And down the road, the ordinance is expected to be strengthened.