Google Ads help pay the expense of maintaining this site

Click Here for the Neighborhood Transformation Website

Fair Use Disclaimer

Neighborhood Transformation is a nonprofit, noncommercial website that, at times, may contain copyrighted material that have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It makes such material available in its efforts to advance the understanding of poverty and low income distressed neighborhoods in hopes of helping to find solutions for those problems. It believes that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Persons wishing to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of their own that go beyond 'fair use' must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Published Friday, December 8, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Development may uplift Overtown
By Andrea Robinson

Overtown, the inner-city neighborhood surrounded by downtown expansion, may soon get new buildings, too.

Under a partnership between the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust and a local community development corporation, a long-shuttered public housing project will be replaced by 100 townhomes in Overtown. The new development, Town Park Gardens, would be the first major building project in historic Overtown in more than 30 years.

The project could ``make this a viable community once again. I hope it will bring some other economic development and initiatives here,'' said the Rev. Richard Marquess-Barry, rector at St. Agnes Episcopal Church and president of the community development corporation involved in the project. Town Park Gardens sits adjacent to the church, 1750 NW Third Ave.

Demolition is expected to begin in January. If successful, the estimated $10 million redevelopment would be an uplift of sorts to Overtown, which has one of the lowest rates of homeownership in the county.

Empowerment Trust president Bryan Finnie said plans are to reduce the density at the 12.8-acre site. There had been 145 units in the old Town Park Gardens, built in 1976. The project fell into disrepair and was vacated because the county lacked funds for rehabilitation, estimated at $4.3 million.

Finnie said the plan is in the predevelopment phase, meaning that engineering, environmental and marketing studies have to be completed before they could gauge prices.

However, he said, ``It will be affordable homeownership'' and preference would be given to empowerment zone residents, ``with particular emphasis on Overtown.''

The project, which is owned by Miami-Dade Housing Agency, had been vacant for eight years, Marquess-Barry said. In 1998, Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler pushed to transfer the property to the Empowerment Trust and St. Agnes. The commission approved $2 million per year over five years in surtax funds for the project.

In Overtown, actual owners occupy just 4 percent of the properties. That translates into few stakeholders within its boundaries, Carey Shuler said.

``St. Agnes will not be an absentee. They've been here for years and aren't going anywhere,'' she said.

``They will maintain and monitor what will happen and make sure that people take pride in the property.''

Marquess-Barry echoed that the majority of the owners are absentee landlords and said the new project is ``an opportunity for blacks to once again have ownership in Overtown.''