County OKs arena Metrorail stop for mixed-use project
By Catherine Lackner
In an effort to spur downtown development near the Miami Arena Metrorail stop, Miami-Dade County commissioners are working with a development firm to build a mixed-use project with the station as its hub.
In partnership with the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust, the non-profit Saint Agnes Rainbow Village Development Corp. plans to develop 300,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of retail support space, a 567-space parking garage for general use by commuters and an open plaza between the garage and the offices.
Under the agreement, Saint Agnes will pay the county $60,000 in the first year of the lease, with the rent escalating to $194,278 in year 30. It's estimated that the lease will generate more than $14 million during its 30-year term. The parties will have the option of two, 30-year renewals.
In addition to the guaranteed rent, the county will receive rent equal to 2% of gross income estimated to range from $158,779 in year three to $497,845 in year 30.
The county will also benefit because Saint Agnes, or the eventual tenants, will be responsible for maintenance, which now costs about $12,000 a year. The profit should be a result of property added to the tax rolls and because the development is expected to boost Metrorail ridership.
Buildings such as this help "meet market demand and reduce the reliance on personal vehicles," said Bryan Finnie, empowerment trust president.
Last week's deal comes in response to a 1998 request for proposals from the Miami-Dade Transit Agency. The agency sought bidders to develop nine Metrorail stations, but no proposals were received for the Overtown station.
County officials said that in March, the transit agency received an unsolicited proposal from Saint Agnes to develop a project at the station, part of an economically depressed area northwest of Miami's central business district.
Saint Agnes, affiliated with St. Agnes Episcopal Church, 1750 NW Third Ave., is involved in two public housing complexes, Rainbow Village and Town Park, which it will manage. Town Park, which sits adjacent to the church, is set for demolition so that a modern residential project of 100 units can be built.
To develop the Metrorail station project, the group has contracted with Overtown Partnership Ltd., according to a county memo, whose principals include Walter Sweeting and Theodora Bryant of the Union Group; Herbert Bailey, a consultant to the Union Group, and Harvey Taylor of Taylor Development & Land Co.. Mr. Taylor has developed a number of retail projects in South Florida, many of them in partnership with Publix Super Markets.
Mr. Bailey, a former assistant city manager, has more than 30 years experience in public-private development, and Mr. Sweeting has been in construction for two decades.
The lease, which the commission approved 12-0 with Commissioner Pedro Reboredo absent, contains a provision that Saint Agnes must obtain a certificate of occupancy within 36 months after construction starts or within 60 months of signing the lease.
Financing for the project will come from BVT Equity Holdings, an international investment and development company, county records show.