It was a strange request for landowners of 42 acres in Palm Beach County, Fla.–the country's 10th-priciest housing market. The owners weren't interested in making money. Instead, they wanted to sell the land for cheap to two Florida developers: Coconut Grove-based Housing Trust Group and Boca Raton-based Goray Communities.

"The owners had farmed the land for decades and had done extraordinarily well," says Randy Rieger, principal of Housing Trust Group, which owns, manages, and develops affordable and market-rate apartments in addition to commercial and retail properties. "They found the obvious lack of affordable housing in the area was driving needed professionals–like firefighters, police, and teachers–out of the market."

Housing Trust Group

In return for the cheap price tag, developers promised to deliver affordable, workforce housing. Two years later, crews broke ground on the $50 million Green Cay Village. It will consist of 420 units: 160 apartments, 160 condominiums, and 100 townhomes. Prices start at $199,000 for condos and the mid-$200,000s for townhomes. With nearby houses averaging $450,000, hundreds of city and county workers flocked to the waiting list. Rents have not been set for the apartments, which won't open until next year.

When the community is completed in fall 2006, it will have a Mediterranean look designed by North Miami Beach, Fla.-based Tseng Consulting Group. The firm drew its design inspiration from the adjacent Green Cay Wetlands, a 100-acre nature preserve.

"The project is really designed to provide a harmony in the environment of the site and a friendly place for families," said George Tseng, company president. "We designed a project with the comfort of the occupant in mind."

–Erin Massey