Key West voters Tuesday approved a measure to raise the building height on a piece of city-owned Stock Island property from 25 to 40 feet, enabling the city to build 104 units of affordable housing.
The measure passed with 58 percent of the vote in the special election. Only 16 percent of the city turned out to vote, according to the Monroe County elections department.
The city wants to build workforce housing at the former Easter Seals property at 5220 College Road. To maximize the number of units, the city had to ask voters to approve raising the height limit on this property only.
“That’s fantastic,” said City Commission Sam Kaufman, when he learned of the election results. “It’s an opportunity, one space, where we can focus our resources and a majority of my colleagues on the commission want to see the lower rents in the 100 or so units that can be built there. I’m very pleased.”
Kaufman said the new building height will allow for 30 additional units to be built.
Forty-foot-tall buildings aren’t unheard of in Key West, with hotels along North Roosevelt Boulevard from the Triangle intersection to Seventh Street, the condos on South Roosevelt Boulevard, and the water towers on Stock Island next to the proposed affordable workforce housing site, all measuring close to the city’s maximum height limit.
But the old Easter Seals lot still had a 25-foot maximum height limit.
The referendum reads, “Shall the maximum height for habitable space used exclusively for affordable and workforce housing projects be increased from 25 to 40 feet on approximately 2.62 acres of city owned property in the HDR-1 zoning district on College Road.”
About 11 percent of voters turned out early to cast their ballots: 328 people voted in person while 1,339 mail-in ballots were received, according to voter records.
The measure passed at each of Key West’s 10 precincts.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen