Miami Herald, The (FL)
March 27, 2005
Section: SECTION
Edition: Final
Page: 3GR

BUILDING TIES WITH HOMES
LAURA MORALES, llmorales@herald.com

Linda Green, a lifelong apartment dweller, always wanted to have a house. As a little girl, she longed for her own backyard to play in.

She's still living in an apartment. But not for much longer.
On Wednesday, Green, surrounded by many people who have helped her, stood on a brand-new porch, beaming for the camera as she snipped a green ribbon in half and officially made the home hers.

Green's dream came true with help from the Coconut Grove Collaborative, the city of Miami, professors and students from the University of Miami's School of Architecture, Wind and Rain Properties, Pointe Bank and Coconut Grove Bank.

The group is working together on a project to build three affordable houses for owners with long-standing family ties to the Village West section of the Grove.

Jihad Rashid, executive director of the Collaborative, said the project is meant to help the people most affected by gentrification in the area.

``This is a perfect example of what our group is all about,'' Rashid said after the ribbon ceremony. ``We're trying to help kick off a new era of progress for the Village West.''

Richard Shepard, UM professor of architecture and director of the school's Center for Urban and Community Design, involved 15 of his students in the project. They designed Green's house and the two that are to follow.

The lots for all the houses were donated by the city. Wind and Rain, a local developer, is building the homes. ``We did all the research and drawings in about half a semester,'' said Brittney Jorth, one of the students. Jorth recently graduated and works for an architecture firm in West Palm Beach.

``We tried to give the home a lot of natural ventilation, to help keep energy bills down in the long run,'' Jorth added. Pointe Bank is providing Green with the necessary financing, with tax credits from the city to help keep the mortgage affordable.

``The students' design is unique and of value not only to the homeowner but to the community,'' said bank representative Gordon Fales. ``That's the best part of the outreach we're involved in.''

In just over a month, Green, an administrative assistant for Caribbean Hotel Assoc., and her 14-year-old son Merrill will come home to the new, golden-yellow house, which looks like it belongs on a Bahamian beach. The wide, airy porch faces Frow Avenue by Douglas Road in the Village West area.

The UM architects designed the house in the Caribbean ``dog-trot'' style, which features a wide central hallway with a kitchen in the back, flanked by three bedrooms and two baths.

``We are absolutely elated,'' Green said in an interview. ``Merrill is the one who picked out the design. I'm glad my son gets to spend at least part of his childhood in a real house.''

Rashid said that the Collaborative is working with the city to acquire 10 more lots for affordable houses. ``We have several preapproved buyers just waiting for their own chance,'' he continued.

``Home ownership is something we believe in,'' Shepard said. ``It's a great way to knit the community together....''


Illustration:photo: James Reilly and Richard Shepard and Brittney Jorth and Linda Green and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (A)

UNIVERISTY OF MIAMI PHOTO HAPPY HOMEOWNER: From left, James Reilly, Richard Shepard, director of the University of Miami School of Architecture's Center for Urban and Community Design, Brittney Jorth, homeowner Linda Green and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, dean of the School of Architecture, stand outside Green's new Coconut Grove home.


Copyright (c) 2005 The Miami Herald