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Front Page » Top Stories » Camillus House To Take Attempt To Move Back To City Planners

Camillus House To Take Attempt To Move Back To City Planners

Written by on February 10, 2005

By Yeleny Suarez
A four-year effort by Camillus House officials to move its homeless shelter from downtown Miami to the Civic Center area is to go before the city zoning board March 14 for another try.

The effort long has been backed by downtown interests who see the shelter as a barrier to the area’s rebirth.

Camillus House spokesman Sam Gil said the shelter needs a zoning exception to build on its new site.

Officials of the 44-year-old non-profit want to build a 200,000-square-foot shelter on state-donated land south of Northwest 19th Terrace, north of 18th Street, west of Interstate 95 and east of Seventh Avenue to replace the 29,000-square-foot site at 726 NE First Ave.

For two decades, officials of the shelter operated by the Brothers of the Good Shepherd have proposed new sites so they could expand its services to the homeless. Each time, the city has rejected a move.

Miami Commissioner Angel Gonzalez opposes the current move because it would harm Allapattah, said his chief of staff, Frank Castañeda.

"As Commissioner Gonzalez says, Allapattah has been the dumping ground for the City of Miami for many years, and this will create a more negative environment," Mr. Castañeda said. "The building always has homeless people walking around outside. It will increase crime and drive business away."

In June 2002, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, which has a mission to revitalize Overtown, denied the move with dissenting votes from commissioners Johnny Winton and Arthur Teele Jr.

"There has been a lot of political and community disagreements, a not-in-my-backyard argument," Mr. Gil said. "This is the first time we go before the zoning board. If we get this special-exception permit, we will be able to move."