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Front Page » Top Stories » Camillus Houseum Land Deal Expected In Summer

Camillus Houseum Land Deal Expected In Summer

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Written by on April 6, 2006

By Suzy Valentine
Camillus House should be able to complete its land-swap deal with the University of Miami this summer, once the homeless charity clears a few further hurdles.

Last month, the non-profit organization made progress on its plan, winning approval from the Miami Planning Advisory Board for a zoning reclassification from industrial to liberal commercial.

"The zoning changes were approved in principle," said Paul Ahr, Camillus House president. "It went through the board, which is recommending positively that the commission approves it. The next hearing is on April 27."

He explained that several more steps lay before the parties before the exchange is completed.

"Both parcels need to undergo the permitting process. UM also needs to acquire some zoning approvals to do what it’s doing," said Mr. Ahr. "Next we will file our application for a special exclusion to operate a rescue mission. If everything stays on track, we should make the land swap in the middle of September."

Last September, officials from Camillus House and the university agreed to trade adjoining plots on Northwest Seventh Avenue so that the charity could build a complex that would include spaces for up to 340 homeless people.

The facility, planned for the lot between 17th and 20th streets, is to cost $30 million to construct. The nonprofit agency plans to raise $10 million for an endowment.

Camillus House doesn’t plan to launch its capital campaign, said Mr. Ahr, until it is several steps further along the planning process.

"There is a certain amount of reticence to kickstart that," he said, "until we are more advanced in the planning stage, though we have spoken to a few donors already but we plan to roll out the capital campaign properly in the middle of the summer."

In the meantime, the nonprofit organizer fundraiser is planned for April 24 at the Coral Gables Country Club. It is the sixth annual Spark of Hope dinner and auction.

"We expect 400 people to attend," said Mr. Ahr. "It will be something of a soft opening to our fundraising efforts but we’re waiting for more momentum at a city level before we redouble that effort. Folks want to see us a few more moves down the track."

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