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Miami Herald - 6/14/02

Commission OK's rebuilding plans - FEC Corridor
By Judy Odierna

Urban renewal efforts received a boost Thursday when the Miami City Commission approved a plan for the economic redevelopment of the FEC rail track corridor, several measures to strengthen the effort to revitalize the Model City neighborhood and a summit next month on Seventh Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

''We're turning the neighborhoods back to the people,'' said Commissioner Art Teele Jr. ``There's a real momentum to get revitalization back in the neighborhoods.''

The Model City measures included expanded duties and a name change for the Model City Community Revitalization District Trust, a public-private partnership that promotes affordable housing.

That effort will continue today with a workshop detailing the planned improvements at 8:30 a.m. at the Downtown Hyatt Regency, 400 SE Second Ave.

The trust's new president is Gwendolyn Warren, who left her previous job as head of the city's Community Development department while under political fire.

The plan approved for the FEC corridor focuses on bringing mixed retail and residential projects, road improvements, housing rehabilitation and light rail to an area from Northeast 79th Street to Northeast 14th Street. It's bordered on the west by Interstate 95 and the east mostly by Biscayne Boulevard, extending to the waterfront in the Edgewater and Omni neighborhoods.

The commission also told city staff to request the Florida Department of Transportation include the proposed Biscayne Boulevard improvements in its five-year plan and to develop a strategy to encourage homeownership in Little Haiti and Wynwood.

Architect Bernard Zyscovich and former Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin detailed several study suggestions that target transportation, housing, street-scape and economic development.

''It reminds me of the early years of South Beach,'' Kasdin said. ``I sense something that I have not seen in 20 years.''