What’s going on in Overtown?
Clarence Woods, SEOPW CRA executive director tells his side
Ashley Montgomery | 2/13/2014, 9 a.m.
After enduring hurdle after hurdle, the Overtown community will finally begin to see the fruits of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency [SEOPW CRA], the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s labor.
On Monday, Jan. 27 the board of commissioners of the CRA approved the development agreements in support of the three new construction projects that are set to get the ball rolling in 2015.
Combined, the new developments are in their final stages before construction. Project developers All Abroad Florida NW 6th Street, LLC; Overtown Gateway Partners, LLC and Sawyers Walk, LTD will bring over 650 affordable housing units to the zone.
The new developments are projected to create 172,500 square feet of commercial space and 500 parking spaces and will include a four-star hotel with 125 rooms.
The Overtown community benefit greatly from what’s to come. Commercial and residential areas are being implemented so that jobs and homes will be abundant for future generations to come.
The Plaza at Lyric [NW Second Avenue between NW 8th and 10th Streets across from the historic Lyric
Theatre], which is expected to add 158 units of affordable housing to the community, totaling $35-36 million for the entire project.
The Courtside Family Apartments [between NW 14th and NW 16th Streets at the intersection of NW 3rd Avenue], which is looking to bring in a total of 84 affordable housing units. Courtside Family Apartments is a partnership with former Heat center, Alonzo Mourning’s charitable foundation and the CRA.
Island Living is looking to add 70 affordable units and will total to about $18-20 million for the total cost.
Last, St. John’s Plaza, which is a collaboration with St. Johns Baptist Church, will provide 90 units of affordable housing and about 9,000 square feet of commercial space.
Commissioner Keon Hardemon says that he feels “encouraged that the Overtown community will finally have the developments that they have been promised and rightfully deserve.”
Clarence Woods, executive director of the SEOPW CRA promises that hundreds of permanent jobs will come with the execution of these projects.
“Permanent jobs create sustainability to any area, but particularly in areas where people live,” County Commissioner, Audrey Edmonson of District 3 said. “These developments will produce permanent jobs in hospitality with the proposed hotel; clerks, cashiers, managers, sales associates, secretaries and other professions with the proposed retail, restaurants and office space.”
Woods and his staff prepped the entire Overtown community for future developments for years by creating the Facade and Improvement project. With this enterprise, Overtown received five million dollars worth of improvements and makeovers to show investors, tourists and others that this was a region that took pride in itself.
“The whole idea of doing a water and sewer upgrade was because the line would not be able to withstand what developers are getting ready to do soon,” Woods said. “Instead of the six inch pipes we put in 12 inch pipes.”
Woods wants all to know that there have been a lot of things done from a planning perspective since his day one in office . His passion for the community can be heard in his voice and he says that he is seriously concerned about the welfare of the people in the Overtown neighborhoods receiving the safety and care that they deserve.
“I can only speak for when I got here — preparing the actual physical locations for development to come, we’ve put in the infrastructure to make Overtown look a lot nicer for investors to want to come into the community,” Woods said.
Woods goes on to admit that there have been significant delays in the process, but is excited for getting over the protuberances.
“Regarding two of the blocks, there had been mitigations over it at our last board meeting which represented the city and the county coming together to reach an agreement,” Woods said.
From the reopening of the newly expanded Lyric Theatre this past week; the approval of the aforementioned developments; the Beacon Apartments; the Overtown Youth Center and the announcement of the renowned Jackson Soul Food expanding into new territory, just to name a few are all awe-inspiring things that Overtown residents and visitors alike can enjoy.