US to build immigration center on county properties
By Eric Kalis
Federal officials have selected three Miami-Dade County properties to be the sites of new immigration facilities.
The properties — and another in Broward County — were chosen by the General Services Administration for four Citizenship and Immigration Services buildings. Real estate firm South Florida Federal Partners bought the parcels with Gray & Associates Properties, a boutique real estate company in the Design District.
Two of the Miami-Dade properties — a 5-acre lot on Miami Gardens Drive in Hialeah and a 4.5-acre lot on Southwest 120th Street in Kendall —are vacant, Mr. Halda said. A 4.25-acre lot at Northwest Seventh Avenue in Miami has a small building on the property, he said.
The companies negotiated each transaction with property owners, said Bryan Todd Halda, senior associate at Gray. Financial terms of each deal have not been disclosed, but the value of the four properties including the Broward County site total more than $50 million, Mr. Halda said.
"We have been working on this deal for the past eight months," Mr. Halda said. "It has been a long process. This is first transaction of this nature we have been part of."
Construction of the new buildings could begin as soon as June, said Mark Levin, president of South Florida Federal Partners. The buildings should be operational by next summer, Mr. Levin said.
Federal officials had stringent criteria for prospective building sites in several South Florida target zones. To be eligible, a property must:
nHave enough space to accommodate a two-story building with 50,000 to 80,000 square feet.
nProvide at least 325 parking spaces and be accessible to public transportation.
nBe more than 500 feet away from a school, day-care facility or nursing home.
The federal government "planned to make the sites closer to people who use the building for the convenience of both clients and employees," Mr. Levin said.
Some of the services to be provided at the buildings include naturalization and green-card processing, Mr. Halda said. Unlike the Immigration and Naturalization Service building at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 79th Street, the CIS buildings will not have a law-enforcement component with holding cells, he said.
Federal immigration officials announced last week that the Biscayne Boulevard INS facility will be shut down.
The INS facility "is an eyesore," Mr. Halda said. "There have been parking problems and long lines for some time."