Federal Brownfields Grant To Help Build Condoretail Complex In Miami
By Susan Stabley
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Thanks to $5 million in federal funds, the City of Miami and a private developer hope to turn a contaminated site into 198 condominiums plus commercial and retail space in the Allapattah community.
City officials are concluding a deal for the Wagner Square Project, a city-owned 2.95-acre site at 1700 NW 14th St., named after a nearby creek, said Otto Boudet, senior adviser for economic development with the Miami mayor’s office.
In partnership with developer Wagner Square, the city applied in June and won a $1 million brownfield grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, one of 23 awarded nationwide.
"It’s a very competitive process," Mr. Boudet said. "This is the first time the city has ever won a BEDI."
Short for Brownfield Economic Development Initiative, the BEDI is one of the key competitive grant programs for economic and community development under Section 108 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. The federal government defines a brownfield as "an abandoned, idled, or underused property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination." Brownfields are difficult to sell to developers, as opposed to limited "greenfield" sites, or undeveloped properties, like such as farmlands, woodlands or fields.
The brownfield initiative was also created for adding economic opportunities for citizens with low and moderate incomes. The residential units will be affordable and market rate for-sale housing, Mr. Boudet said. About 97,000 square feet of commercial and retail space will be available, of which he expects much to be dedicated to medical office use. The area is near Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
The project also was awarded $4 million in Section 108 funds, the loan guarantee provision of the Community Development Block Grant program. The total project is estimated at $34 million, according to the housing department web site.
The $1 million brownfield grant will be given to the developers to clean up the contamination, said Mr. Boudet, after the land is sold to the developers at a price of $1.5 million to $1.7 million. City officials had hoped details would be hammered out in time for a hearing Dec. 12, but Mr. Boudet said the issue would probably have to wait until January to go before the Miami City Commission.
In 2001, the federal government awarded $25 million in brownfield economic development grants and $29 million in 2002. Both years, the largest awards were capped at $2 million.
This year, Pompano Beach was the only other Florida community to receive such funds. The housing department awarded Pompano $500,000 for redevelopment of a site along its Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in the northwest community for a 24-acre, $55 million retail and office project that will also offer mixed-income and elderly housing.