Ocean Breeze on Marathon Key has seen its fair share of large storms, but following the destruction of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017 the community was rebuilt with a new aesthetic, and one that will help fend off the high winds and flooding of the future.
“Unfortunately we lost everything in the storm, but it’s an opportunity to redevelop,” Ocean Breeze sales associate Michelle Meszaros said. “We worked with Nationwide and we designed these homes alongside of them to meet all the new standards that were put into effect after Irma.”
The new factory-built homes, constructed to local modular specifications within a stackable HUD-code envelope, are upon foundational pilings and are built to withstand high winds and flying debris.
What Makes the New Ocean Breeze More Durable?
“In a lot of cases, the homes will be more wind resistant than a concrete block structure,” Meszaros said. “They’re made to withstand sustained winds of up to 180 miles per hour.
“With the Bahama shutters, you can open the windows and bring them inside the home to protect the window and the interior, including the occupants,” she said. “Many storm shutters will protect from a palm tree coming through or something like that, but the glass will still break. And it’s expensive to replace a window. This shutter protects the glass from outside debris.”
Each home has a metal roofing system and Hardie board siding, which is a durable concrete-fiberboard that comes in a variety of textures and colors. Both upgraded materials help protect the home during a storm. And each is much less likely than standard materials to dislodge and create a further hazard for the community.
“It holds up really well to the hot Florida sun,” Meszaros said of the Hardie board. “It doesn’t fade like other siding might, so you don’t have to get up to paint it nearly as often.”
The community had 16 new homes in place at the beginning of 2020 and had plans for another 15 homes during the first quarter. All of the homes have high ceilings and plenty of natural light.
Isla Vista Model
- 960-square feet
- 2 bedroom
- 2 bath
- Bahama shutters
- Stainless steel farmhouse sink
- Granite countertops
- Covered parking
- Second-floor sky deck
“The homes are meant to be very low maintenance,” she said. “We have beautiful Trex decking and also the stairway that goes up in the second level is made by Trex. And there are beautiful, nautical looking stairway rails, with posts and guy-wires.”
Likewise, all of the exterior hardware and components of the homes, as well as the community buildings and common areas, are made from noncorrosive materials. Rebar and concrete foundations are drilled and anchored into the corral below. Brick and paver driveways go under each home and throughout the community.
With Ocean Breeze rebuilt to withstand heightening forces of Atlantic storms, Sun Communities, the Michigan-based owner, can let the property be as it was intended — an enchanted seaside resort in the middle Keys.
Much Needed New Housing in Central Florida Keys
Beyond the durability of the revamped land-lease community, the new homes it provides are much needed affordable housing in a resort area known for its multi-million dollar dwellings.
“If you talk about the Keys, our homes are affordable,” Meszaros said. “You can’t even purchase a home on the canal for under $1 million. Right next door to us there’s a developer putting in $6.5 million homes. Ocean Breeze is very affordable for the Keys.”
Waterfront homes at Ocean Breeze will sell for $390,000, with homes in the $200s at the interior. Interior monthly site rent is $1,100 and $1,350 at the water. Former residents of Ocean Breeze are provided special pricing if they opt to return.
“Some of them are coming back. We offered them the rebuilt community, brand new homes and all the amenities, fully insured, at 5% below cost,” she said. “We are pleased that some people did come back.”
Common areas include an open-air pavilion on the boardwalk. It has comfortable seating, including couches, a TV and a grill. The harbor has been dredged, and a new dock system with 14 boat slips was put in. Sun Communities also installed a sunset deck with mature coconut palms and a hammock garden.
“There’s a lot of fishing and snorkeling, obviously, so it really is a beautiful place to be,” Meszaros said.
“It’s one of the great spots because you’re right in the middle,” she said of Marathon Key. “It’s often called the heart of the Keys. There’s shopping and retail, medical access. People don’t realize here that you can get to a grocery store in 10 minutes whereas in other spots it may take you an hour to go to the store.”