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Miami Herald - Feb. 22, 2004
Model Cities -Talks moving forward
despite land question
BY JENNIFER MOONEY
The Model City Community Revitalization Trust agreed Thursday to begin negotiations
for seven single-family homes despite an unexpected setback.
Rather than deciding on future construction for the project's first 11 homes, as
originally planned, the board could discuss only building seven single-family residences.
Earlier in the week, while checking the property appraiser's database, the board's
acting president, Marva Wiley, discovered the property set aside for the four additional
homes has not yet been acquired by the city of Miami, which means construction options
could not be discussed, the board decided unanimously.
News of the delay surprised board members and angered one of the contractors who
said Wiley had guaranteed his company would be hired to build at least 10 adjacent
''I'm trying to build at volume so I can move on and get to the next,'' said Ario
Lundy, president of Palmetto Homes of Miami.
But Wiley said she never made any promises to Lundy.
''We had a discussion in my office, where he tried to sell me on the concept that
he had the capacity to do 11 single-family detached houses,'' Wiley said in a telephone
interview Friday. ``I said we'd look at it. He doesn't have the history of doing
a substantial number of houses at one time.''
Wiley is concerned that awarding builders too many properties may ''overwhelm''
them and lead to a delay in the project.
The Trust is a city of Miami-financed initiative that aims to acquire as much property
as it can afford in the area of Northwest 60th to 62nd streets and Northwest 12th
to 17th avenues, its first target area for redevelopment.
By year's end, the Trust hopes to reach its goal of 49 new housing units, including
single-family residences and townhomes, in Model City, Wiley said.
During its meeting Thursday at the Carrie P. Meek Senior Citizen and Cultural Center,
1350 NW 50th St., the board agreed to negotiate with Lundy on four homes -- between
Northwest 58th Street and 58th Terrace and between 15th and 17th avenues. Mega Construction
Team will submit a proposal to build three homes -- along Northwest 61st Street
between 14th and 15th avenues.
A decision will not be made on the other four homes until the city acquires the
''If the property is there but does not show clear ownership ... the Trust does
not have control of that property,'' said board member the Rev. Vincent Mitchell.
Despite Lundy's pleas for a verbal promise that he could build at least 10 homes,
the board wouldn't budge on its decision.
''All this board has gone through to get to this point, we don't want to jump into
a situation and be criticized because we didn't do it properly,'' said Patrick Range,
a Liberty City businessman who is chairman of the Trust.
The two companies were given the go-ahead to draft contracts and tally the costs
of the projects for presentation to the board at a later meeting.
The board expressed concern about the selection process that would be used to choose
prospective buyers of the new homes.
Wiley said she has received several calls from people asking how to become eligible.
The best way to find qualified buyers, she said, is to work with Miami-Dade's Housing
Finance Authority, which specializes in increasing homeownership for low- and moderate-income
''They have plenty of buyers,'' Wiley said at the meeting. ``They just need the
David Chiverton, a longtime resident of Model City who regularly attends the Trust
meetings, is pleased with the board's progress and hopes people already living in
the neighborhood have priority in purchasing the new homes.
''If you're cleaning up the neighborhood, those who have lived through the bad times,
should be given an opportunity to live through the good times,'' said Chiverton.
``They deserve to share the American dream of home ownership.''