Miami Affordable Housing Projects Closer To Development

, Daily Business Review

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Rendering of Courtside
Rendering of Courtside

After years of setbacks that have pushed back the timeline on development, several affordable housing projects in one of Miami's most blighted corners are closer to becoming a reality, a developer of one project and others involved in the transactions told the Daily Business Review.

Four new construction projects, which combined would add more than 600 units of affordable rental housing to the Overtown neighborhood of Miami's urban core, are in advanced stages of securing construction funding and are likely to move forward with development, according to the chief executive of the Community Redevelopment Agency for the area.

"If I had to guess, at this time, we'll close the financing in the first quarter of 2014," said Matthew Rieger, president and CEO of developer Housing Trust Group, which is building one of the projects. "We will put a shovel in the ground the day after we close."

Housing Trust's project, Courtside Family Apartments, is looking to build 84 units of affordable housing for families between NW 14th and NW 16th Streets at the intersection of NW Third Avenue. The developer expects costs to amount to $20 million for that first phase of development. A second, $30 million phase is expected to add 114 units of housing for seniors to the same area. A third, $20 million development will provide 80 units of housing for to-be-determined special needs population—it could be housing for the homeless or disabled veterans, for example.

Housing Trust Group's Courtside, which came together through a partnership with the developer, former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning's namesake charitable foundation, and the local CRA, is not even the project furthest along in development.

That distinction belongs to a development baptized Lyric Place, which is expected to add 164 units of affordable housing on NW Second Avenue between NW Eighth and 10th Streets across from the historic Lyric Theatre, according to the executive director of the Overtown CRA, which also covers parts of southeast Overtown and Park West.

A third project, Island Living, is expected to add 75 units of affordable housing to the neighborhood at 1201 NW Third Ave. St. John Overtown Plaza at Northwest Third Avenue and 13th Street will add 90 units of affordable housing.

Development Incentives

Several of the projects include a retail and commercial space component, a move expected to help create jobs in the area as companies take up those spaces.

"These are areas where we see a need for affordable housing to address slum and blight, so we incentivized developers to come into our area to come in and develop," said Clarence Woods, executive director of the Southeast Overtown Park West CRA.

The CRA is playing a key role in the financing of the developments, negotiating a $60 million bond issue to partly finance the projects to pay for the rehabilitation of other affordable housing units, and retire debt. It's a big step for the CRA, one that will tie up a significant amount of its revenues for years to come.

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