Overtown Development Deadline Caught In Countycity Crossfire
Written by Deserae del Campo on March 23, 2006
By Deserae del Campo
Caught in a crossfire between the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County is the $200 million Crosswinds development in Overtown that includes 1,050 workforce-housing units.
An effort to extend for 10 years a 2007 construction deadline was sidetracked last week as the county fired shots at all its agreements with the city.
But even without the extension, developers say they’ll get the project built.
During a Community Empowerment & Economic Revitalization Committee meeting, County Manager George Burgess deferred efforts to extend the Omni and Overtown redevelopment agencies because of soured negotiations with Miami officials over funding commitments for Parrot Jungle Island.
An appendix in the paperwork on the Crosswinds project could have extended a reverter clause, said Frank Rollason, executive director of the Overtown/Parkwest and Omni redevelopment agencies.
The city is obliged to return the land in a square block bounded by Northwest First and Second avenues and Eighth and Ninth streets to the county if it isn’t developed by August 2007.
"The issue with Parrot Jungle is not a part of the Community Redevelopment Agency," Mr. Rollason said. "This is just a holdup."
The mixed-use Crosswinds project is to include four buildings with 63,000 square feet of commercial space as well as housing.
Most units are to be sold at market rate, but 160 are to be reserved for people with 80% to 120% of the county median income and 50 are to be given to the city for Overtown residents with 50% to 80% of the city’s median.
"The mission should be to get the housing back over there," said Mr. Rollason. "Who is suffering here are the people in Overtown. This is much ado about nothing – getting the Community Redevelopment Agency involved when this should be in the best interest of the city, the county and the residents."
In January 2005, city commissioners approved a settlement allowing Michigan developer Crosswinds Communities to take over unfinished work on the site after Indian River Investments failed to construct phase two of its 269 NW Seventh St. Poinciana Village project.
The land is under litigation involving the Department of Community Redevelopment; Miami Arena owner Glenn Straub, who is suing the city for not putting the land out to bid for development; and Power U, a grassroots nonprofit corporation in Overtown that insists the land was promised to benefit local Overtown businesses, residents and developers.
"We are geared to meet the reverter clause deadline for 2007," said Mathew Schwartz, director of urban development for Crosswinds. "We will be ready to file the major-use special permit within the next two weeks, and hopefully these lawsuits will be gone in the next few months.
"This project has 20% affordable housing and 80% workforce housing," said Mr. Schwartz. "This is not luxury housing. It is housing desperately needed in the community."