Christmas came early for Patricia McKenzie. The duplex she previously rented had appliances and plumbing that her old landlord refused to fix, as well as no air conditioning.
“The landlord didn’t want to fix nothing,” said McKenzie, a 49-year-old security guard.
But after discovering King’s Terrace on a drive home, McKenzie prayed that she would be granted an apartment once she applied. In under two weeks her prayers were answered. She moved into the brand-new, government-subsidized private housing complex in Opa-locka in December.
“I told my sister, if I had one wish for Christmas, it is I want to move here. When they called me and said you have the place, I was like oh my God, thank you Jesus,” said McKenzie.
King’s Terrace, located at 12555 NW 27th Ave., is a new community that was formerly known as Westview Terrace and was notorious for violent crimes. Half the structure was condemned by Miami-Dade County.
McKenzie said she remembers when bodies were found in the old complex.
“The experience that I had when I use to come over here to visit a friend, it was bad but now it’s good. And when you look at it, it’s like wow,” said McKenzie.
Pinnacle Housing Group, the company that built and now maintains the King’s Terrace, said they hope that these new apartments will help change the culture of violence that once ruled the area. Michael Wohl, a partner at Pinnacle Housing Group, said that the company took extra measures to make sure that this property will remain a safe.
“Security is a huge factor. We have more security cameras in this development than we have by far ever had. And we have 24 hour security guards,” said Wohl.
The company enlisted a security consultant to help ensure the safety of the residents. They even installed special security locks and shatter-proof windows to prevent break-ins.
Pinnacle Housing focuses on development in communities with low- to moderate-income families.
Louis Wolfson III, who is a partner of the company, said the project initially was a rehabilitation of the old building which would have cost $14 million. However, the finished product would not have been up to the company’s standards.
“We said even after that rehab we would have a product that we wouldn’t be proud of, that the county wouldn’t be proud of,” said Wolfson. “We wanted to tear it down and build a fabulous community that everyone could be proud of.”
Walking through the community, McKenzie said she sees the pride on her neighbors faces. She also said that the neighborhood children are friendly and helpful.
“There are kids who help me with my groceries,” said McKenzie. “I offer them a dollar for their help and they won’t take.”
The 300 unit complex was at 100 percent occupancy the first day of opening. There is already a waiting list for new residents.
The project took over a year and $53 million to complete. The company was awarded $17 million from Miami-Dade County from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization program, as well as multiple tax credits.
Three hundred units for $53 million works out to about $177,000 per unit. But in exchange for the government aid and tax credits, Pinnacle can’t sell the apartments. Instead, it must rent them to low- and moderate-income families. The current limit for a family of four is $39,360. Rents range from $588 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,031 for a four-bedroom.
To begin the building process the company relocated 277 families living in Westview Terrace and paid relocation fees according to federal standards. They offered those residents first dibs on moving into King’s Terrace, but only five came back.
Residents began moving in back in December; a grand opening was celebrated Feb. 14. Tours were given and residents showed off their new apartments.
McKenzie, who arrived in December with her sister, compares living in King’s Terrace to living in the White House.
“I felt like Michelle and Barack Obama. It’s like living in the White House because everything is new,” said McKenzie. “I’m glad to be living at King’s Terrace. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”