Miami OKs Allapattah lot for affordable housing use
By Paola Iuspa
Miami city officials have OK'd the sale of a city-owned lot in Allapattah that will be used for an affordable housing project.
The nonprofit Metro-Miami Community Development Corp. will pay $1.45 million for the never-developed lot at 1700 NW 14th Ave. The housing will be for medium- and low-income families.
The proposed 435-unit complex with pools, a gym, a daycare center and meeting rooms, could cost the group an estimated $31 million, said Tomas Diego, president of the group.
"The slogan will be 'Brickell in Allapattah,'" he said. "The design is going be modern and aesthetic. People will feel proud to live there. Our goal is to sell $100,000 homes for no more than $80,000."
The city had bought the 12.8-acre parcel with federal money to build low-income housing 20 years ago but the project never happened, said Angel Gonzales, director of the Allapattah Chamber of Commerce and spokesman for the group.
"We have been working on buying the land for the past two years," he said. "But the city kept postponing it."
The property is on a waiting list for the Florida Brownfield program, a state-financed plan to clean the ground. Mr. Gonzales said the soil had been contaminated, probably by fertilizing and chemicals used by a nursery there many years ago.
Some city commissioners on Thursday questioned the seriousness of the developer after learning Metro-Miami Community Development Corp. had made a deposit of only $100 to secure the land.
Mr. Gonzales said the 5-year-old group had made other commitments. For one thing, Mr. Gonzales said, "we are going to pay for the cleaning of the land."
Commissioner Tom s Regalado, who sponsored the resolution, said the group would not request matching funds or pre-development money from the city, as often happens with companies building affordable housing.
"These people are not asking for any of that," he said.
Mr. Gonzales said Metro-Miami Community Development had obtained a commitment for financing, but if they don't buy the land within two years, the pledge would be dissolved.
"They are being over-generous," Commissioner Arthur Teele said. "We should help these people. I think they should be granted the land."
As agreed with the city, the group would have to complete the cleanup within a year of purchasing the land and start construction within two years after the cleanup.
Mr. Diego said the group plans to start the clean-up by February. Once the cleanup is over, Mr. Diego said, the Environmental Protection Agency would contribute some of the cost for the decontamination.