Miami issues $12 million grant, permit for Overtown project
By Deserae del Campo
Michigan developer Crosswinds last week got want it wanted from the Miami City Commission — a major use special permit to build its Sawyer's Walk in Overtown and a $12 million subsidy for infrastructure and parking.
In exchange, the city stands to gain $4.8 million in tax-increment funds annually from the massive mixed-use development starting in 2014, said Mathew Schwartz, Crosswinds director of urban development. But the money can be generated only if "the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County decide to extend the lives of the redevelopment agencies for an additional 20 years," Mr. Schwartz said.
Under an agreement with the City of Miami and the developers, Mr. Schwartz said, "the tax-increment funds generated by the project until 2013 will be funneled back into Sawyer's Walk and used for infrastructure needs and parking."
He projected the project will generate $12 million in tax-increment funds through 2013.
Commissioners voted 4-1 last Thursday to grant Crosswinds the building permit for Sawyer's Walk, a four-building residential project with 1,050 units and 75,000 square feet of retail and office space. The decision came after several hours of arguments that included complaints from Overtown residents who claimed Sawyer's Walk amounts to gentrification that will display residents from their community.
Crosswinds developers promised to increase planned affordable units from 50 to 112 for current Overtown residents. An additional 210 units will be sold below market value, the developers said.
The $200 million-plus Sawyer's Walk is to rise on land that the county could take back if construction wasn't under way by August 2007. Crosswinds developers hope to begin groundbreaking by early summer 2007.
The land is also under litigation involving the Miami Arena owner Glenn Straub, who is suing the city for not putting the land out to bid for development, and Power U Center for Social Change, an Overtown group that claims the land was promised to benefit local Overtown businesses, residents and developers.
The lawsuits may slow construction for Sawyer's Walk, but Mr. Schwartz said they will not halt construction completely.
"Our next step is to start the designs of the project and put the financing together and get these two court litigations out of the way," he said "It won't stop the project, but it could slow it down somewhat."
The Overtown/Parkwest and Omni Redevelopment Agencies are counting on the county to extend their lives to 2027. They expect to receive about $340 million in tax-increment funds that would be used to finance projects within their borders.
The tax money is expected from residential and commercial development projects going up in both areas.
Recently, Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones announced the allocation of $30 million in tax-increment funds from the Community Redevelopment Agencies to build affordable and middle-income housing in Overtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
"This is a huge commitment from the Community Redevelopment Agency," she said. "There are families out there just trying to survive."