Middle Keys hotel, apartment complex going up as other projects stall

This is Caya Place on 73rd Street bayside. It started going up in February and when finished will house 26 affordable units.
This is Caya Place on 73rd Street bayside. It started going up in February and when finished will house 26 affordable units. Keynoter

Developing land in the Florida Keys is not as easy as one, two, three.

That’s evidenced by the numerous projects announced in the last 10 months and the number of lots that remain empty or untouched. At other sites, construction has started or continues. Following is an update of some in Marathon.


Major work has been done to what will be an 80-room Hampton Inn at mile marker 54 oceanside. It used to be a Ramada Inn and was purchased from South Florida developer Donahue Peebles in 2015 by Baywood Hotels.

“I don’t know what their timing is, but I think they’re for the most part done with the actual hotel portion,” said City Planner George Garrett. “I know they’re working on the entry and there will be space for a restaurant and exercise building.”

A 26-unit rental complex called Caya Place started going up in February on 73rd Street bayside in Marathon and is almost done. Another Caya Place is going up on Big Pine Key that has 16 units. Both housing projects are under a partnership between Tri-Star Affordable Development and Los Angeles-based Alden Capital Partners.

Keys Affordable Development is the owner. On Big Pine Key, the 16 units are being housed in a two-story building at mile marker 30 bayside.

Casa De Palmas is another Keys Affordable Development project set to include 55 affordable housing units at mile marker 50 bayside. Developer Michael McPhillips of Keys Affordable Development requested building rights in December for 55 affordable units and those allocations were granted by Monroe County but there is no set start or end date for the project, Garrett said.


Every residence has a certificate that is an inherent permit allocation and if a unit is demolished, the development right remains with the former structure. A limited number of affordable housing permits are given by the city but more can be obtained from the county.

The permits for Casa De Palmas are good through the end of the year, as are 46 allocations that were approved for nearby Cyrstal Cove.

The 7.7-acre Crystal Cove lot at 4900 Overseas Highway bayside has sat derelict for about a decade. It was announced in December a 28-lot RV park, 46 affordable housing units and up to 7,700 square feet of commercial property would go there with a time line to be done by June 2018.

The project was waiting on approval from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. because developers receive tax credits for building lower-income housing. That has yet to happen.

“More people apply for it than there is financing available and another project won out over this project,” said developer Jim Saunders of Bay View Homes. “That was the way we structured everything, for that eventuality.”

Crystal Cove developers can apply again in the fall for the tax credits and keep the housing allocations that were granted in December from Monroe County.

The Banana Bay Resort and Marina has been undergoing interior renovations since 2015 and wants to add as many as 100 more hotel units on the property, but no action has been taken, Garrett said Thursday.

At mile marker 51.5 oceanside is the Seaward Motel, which has 12 buildings on site being rented as apartments. Seaward Properties LLC wants to make a six-building complex housing 45 one-, two- and three-bedroom affordable housing units. Ten single-family residential units, a playground and dog park would also go up.

“We are waiting for the county to approve some allocations,” said Peter Rosasco, Seaward Properties LLC owner.

Those allocations are for affordable housing, totaling 45 requested for the Seaward Motel property and eight for another project Rosasco is working on at the Florida Keys Country Club.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219