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First residential development in decades launches in West Grove community

Ashley Montgomery | 5/1/2014, 9 a.m.
Thelma Gibson, founder Theodore Gibson Memorial Fund stands in front of the renderings for the Gibson Plaza.

Community leaders and politicians on Monday celebrated the groundbreaking of a multi-million dollar residential tower in the historic West Grove neighborhood, Miami's oldest Black community which was founded by Bahamian settlers.

The huge, collaborative effort has been in the making for the past four years as a

a trio of non-profit organizations teamed up with one of the nation’s most experienced affordable housing developers to build a mixed-use, residential and educational complex that community leaders hope will spark economic development in the area.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez will join the Pinnacle Housing

photo

The Miami Times/Ashley Montgomery

Charles Gibson, president, Theodore Gibson Memorial Fund, grandson of Thelma Gibson delivers speech Monday, April 28 at the groundbreaking of Gibson Plaza.

Group, Coconut Grove Collaborative, Miami Dade College’s Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation, and the Theodore R. Gibson Memorial Fund Inc. in the Gibson Plaza Groundbreaking Ceremony.

“The Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners allocated $9 million towards the construction and development of affordable housing in District 7. This was awarded to the four partners in the Gibson Plaza development; one of the four entities developing Gibson Plaza is the Theodore R. Gibson Memorial Fund Inc., which has been in existence for over 30 years,” Suarez said. “It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be associated with a project that I believe will spur the re-birth of the long neglected segment of our community - The Coconut Grove Village West.”

Thelma Gibson, Founder of the Theodore Gibson Memorial Fund, is both a staple and icon in the community. Gibson said she was honored and pleased to see the hard work by all the organizations come to fruition.

Gibson is the widow of Theodore Gibson, a Black City of Miami commissioner and civil rights leader.

“We all worked so hard to establish the funds and projects,” Gibson said.

Gibson recalled fond memories of Commissioner Suarez and herself from over the years.

“It was such a joy to be working with him — we go back with so many of you,” Gibson said.

Gibson said that she had to stay a woman of her word when she decided to lease the land to Pinnacle Housing Group.

“I told them that I didn’t mind the housing, but we must have a piece for education,” Gibson said.

Charles Gibson, president of the Theodore Gibson Memorial Fund, reminisced about his late grandfather, Theodore and the many contributions he made to the community.

Charles thanked those for allowing a true collaboration from “different people of different cultures” to come together and make something happen that he knew his grandfather would be proud of.

“Thank you to everyone who played a part for all their effort, time and advocacy for this area and our organization” Charles said. “Thank you for trusting us, and seeing the vision that we had, we anted to do something that was monumental and indicative of Father Gibson and everything he stood for.”

The five-story building will include 56 apartments and an educational facility that will be of service to residents and members of the surrounding community. Residents will be a minimum of 55 years old. The majority of the units will have one or two bedrooms.

The educational component — one that Gibson said must be included — will be provide educational and job workforce programs. Also included will be an exercise room, a community center, a library and a computer lab.

The scheduled completion date of the Gibson Plaza is May 2015.