Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower dedicated Villa Matti, the city’s newest affordable senior city housing project, on Tuesday with a special flourish because the 36- unit building bears her name. The first residents will take up residency on June 1.
“Everything I’ve done in life I have not done to take credit but because it is very joyful to see everyone come together,” said Bower, as she cut a big blue ribbon that symbolizes the completion of the rental apartment building.
A large gathering of federal, county, state and city officials attended the opening of the 36-unit building located at 221 28th Street in Miami Beach. The audience also included a group of corsage-bedecked residents who will be the first to move into the building on June 1. The apartment building provides housing to residents who are at least 62 years old and meet low-income requirements.
“It’s terrible to have to leave your home.
This building will make sure that individuals who want to stay in the community can stay and enjoy a good quality of life as they grow older here,” said City Manager Jimmy Morales.
Several speakers lauded Bower for her contributions to the community, not only as Mayor, but also over her long career as a community activist and preservationist.
“It is an honor and a privilege to design this building. One of the hallmarks of Matti’s career will be the legacy of affordable housing she created in Miami Beach,” said Arthur Marcus, the project’s architect.
“I designed the building to be very bold and contemporary while reflective of the rich architecture of Miami Beach, just like Mayor Matti is. There is nothing cookie-cutter about it, which is like Mayor Matti as well,” added Markus.
“What better name to have than Villa Matti. Matti, your spirit is spread upon this building,” said Miami Dade Country Commissioner Bruno Barreiro.
The housing project was dedicated on May 14, 2013, which marked the 34th anniversary of the listing of the Art Deco district on the National Register of Historic Places. The district is now considered a showplace of this world-class tourist destination.
The apartments are designed with Art Deco features, including porthole windows to capture the famous Miami Beach sunrises and sunsets. It is located next to Villa Maria, an award-winning public housing project that was originally intended as luxury housing until Bower helped to spearhead a community protest.
That the city would construct affordable housing on such prime real estate astounds many, said Marcus, who added, “During the construction of Villa Matti, people called asking to purchase what they assumed would be luxury condos. When they were told it was going to be public housing, they just couldn’t comprehend it.”