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Miami Today - Sept. 28, 2006

County, Related weigh workforce housing complex on Miami River

By Eric Kalis

More than 1,000 units of workforce and low-income housing would go up on county land along the Miami River under a proposal from The Related Group.

The proposal won approval Monday from a Miami-Dade County subcommittee. County commissioners are to vote Oct. 10 on whether to proceed with negotiations with Related.

Related, in a public/private partnership with the Allapatah Business Development Authority, proposes building a multi-family complex with 905 workforce housing units for sale, 200 affordable rental units and about 200 residences for low-income elderly to buy or rent. The complex, to be on 11.5 county-owned acres adjacent to the Merrill-Stevens boatyard at Northwest 11th Street, is to have ground-floor retail in the residential buildings and include a 5,500-square-foot restaurant on the north bank of the river, said Oscar Rodriguez, Related's affordable housing director. A parking garage with at least 2,000 spaces will be built to accommodate residents, he said.

"The goal is to create a 24-hour-long environment in an area that normally thrives during work hours," Mr. Rodriguez said. "This project comes from an effort to partner with the public sector to help bring the affordable housing crisis to an end in Miami-Dade."

If the commission allows County Manager George Burgess to negotiate with Related, a contract proposal will be brought back within three to five months, Mr. Rodriguez said. Related officials would then have to clear several zoning hurdles with the City of Miami, which would take six to nine months before an expected groundbreaking in late 2007, he said.

Prices, Mr. Rodriguez said, will begin in the low $100,000s for the 905 workforce units. He said restrictions will be put in place to deter "flippers" and other investors from buying the units.