During its first meeting of the new decade, the Key West Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the proposed Wrecker’s Cay workforce housing project on Stock Island and encouraged commissioners in Key West and Monroe County to approve the project as proposed, with emphasis on median and moderate income categories.
“This housing complex addresses a need that is not being met by the new low-income housing that’s coming online,” says Mike Morawski, immediate past president of the Chamber and chair of the organization’s Workforce Housing Committee. “We have teachers and nurses and first responders whose salaries are too high to qualify for units on College Road, and they’re getting squeezed in the middle. Wrecker’s Cay satisfies this acute need and will do so quickly.”
The endorsement was successful. Several members of the Chamber board traveled to Marathon to speak in-person during the monthly meeting of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, after which the approval passed unanimously.
When built, the nearly 300-unit Wrecker’s Cay would represent the largest Key West-area housing project in 50 years to concentrate on median and moderate workforce housing. Its developer is financing the project without benefit of tax credits and believes units could come on line 12 months from approval.
“This is critical to so many areas of workforce in Key West but especially so in healthcare,” says David Clay, CEO of Lower Keys Medical Center and an executive committee member of the Chamber board. “Healthcare in the Keys will be diminished if we don’t create more housing in this category.”
The Monroe County planning staff has green-lighted the Wrecker’s Cay project, but last minute hurdles were placed in front of the project, including a possible loan of building rights from the City of Key West. In the end, the BOCC approved the project and used county building rights exclusively.
“These opportunities don’t come along very often,” said Chamber President Greg Sullivan, “and it’s critical for our leaders to act quickly.”
The Key West Chamber of Commerce has represented business interests on the island for more than a century. It is governed by a 21-member board of directors representing the largest private employers in Monroe County and observing a mission to serve its members and maintain and promote a viable economy for the businesses and working people of Key West.