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CRA passes $43.5M bond

Hopes to jumpstart the redevelopment projects in historic community

Erick Johnson | 8/7/2014, 9 a.m.
Following pleas from Overtown residents, Miami commissioners on Wednesday unanimously voted to release $43.5 million in bonds to jumpstart redevelopment ...
Lyric Plaza, a swank residential housing complex, is one of many developments that will benefit from the $43.5 bond from the Community Redevelopment Agency.

Following pleas from Overtown residents, Miami commissioners on Wednesday unanimously voted to release $43.5 million in bonds to jumpstart redevelopment projects in the historic Black neighborhood.

The bond will fund various affordable housing complexes and mixed-use development projects at St. John’s Plaza, the Historic Lyric Theater and The Culmer Center Housing Development.

The amount was smaller than the $60 million that was initially proposed to fund the projects. That’s because an ongoing dispute between city and county leaders forced the Board of Southeast OvertownPark West Community Redevelopment Agency to come up with a short-term solution to avoid prolonging the wait for the projects to begin.

The dispute involves a funding cap that limits the county’s investment in redevelopment projects to $4 million. But with future redevelopment projects totaling at least $250 million, the CRA could lose millions of dollars in county funding.

City leaders argue the ordinance cap, which was created in 1984, should be removed in order to fund the redevelopments projects. Last week, a staff member discovered the cap, prompting the county to withdraw $700,000 from their commitment. To make up for the loss, county commissioners have proposed alternatives that CRA board members say are “shortsighted.” City leaders, who make up the CRA, plan to file a lawsuit to force the county to honor their original commitment.

Without the full $60 million commitment, the banks were unwilling to underwrite the loans. Wednesday’s 4-0 decision was viewed as a small victory for Overtown residents who expressed frustration over the long-overdue projects at a public hearing held prior to the vote.

“The projects need to go forward,”said resident Jackie Bale. “The people of Overtown have waited too long.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said CRA Chairman Keon Hardemon. “What we did here today is help a struggling community move forward.”