FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.— Sustainability and self-sufficiency are priorities for the latest development from Miami-based Carlisle Development Group and the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale.

The 143 units—71 are new construction, and 72 are rehabbed—at the first phase of Northwest Gardens will serve seniors earning up to 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income in this impoverished neighborhood.

The new construction units are targeted toward grandparents raising their grandchildren, which Carlisle COO Ken Naylor says is an underserved population with unique needs. The two- and three-bedroom units provide the space needed to raise their grandchildren, while the residents can take advantage of services aimed specifically for seniors.

The rehabbed building features one-bedroom units and has newly added elevators to make it more accessible for the elderly residents.

But the residents aren't the only ones to benefit from this development. All of the bathroom and kitchen cabinets, which are low-VOC and constructed with responsibly harvested wood, were built by apprentices from the housing authority's Step-Up Apprenticeship Program. This two-year program teaches youths construction skills with a specialty in housing rehabilitation and building maintenance while helping them study for their GEDs.

Northwest Gardens Phase 1 is the first LEED for Homes affordable housing development completed in Florida that is gold certified. The master plan for the neighborhood is one of only three LEED for Neighborhood Development communities registered in the state.

Naylor says Northwest Gardens showcases two key aspects of LEED— the creation of more efficient buildings and the focus on residents' well-being and health.

It features energy-efficient fixtures, dual-flush toilets, highly efficient HVAC systems, and solar lights.

Naylor says the team was challenged in the rehab because it didn't have as much room to install the same level of efficiency as the new construction. However, the team was able to increase the building's effi- ciency by installing impact-resistant windows and more insulation.

A first for Carlisle, according to Naylor, is using pervious concrete for the parking lot. This material allows for precipitation to be drained into Florida's aquifer instead of becoming a burden on the storm drains.

The project, like some of Carlisle's other developments, features community gardens, where residents can socialize and grow their own food. “We're solving the food desert problems in the neighborhood,” Naylor notes.

Northwest Gardens also was Carlisle's first project where from the start a multi-disciplinarian team was brought together to do a cost-benefit analysis on all of the green decisions.

“The earlier you can start doing that, you can really figure out what fits into the budget and what you're most interested in accomplishing,” Naylor says.

The $24 million first phase is fi- nanced with a conventional loan from Bank of America Merrill Lynch as well as Tax Credit Exchange Program, HOME, and Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program funds.

Three additional phases of Northwest Gardens are in the works. Phase 3, which will contain townhomes with a focus on larger families, is under construction. Funding applications for the second and fourth phases have been submitted to the Florida Housing Finance Corp.