Google Ads help pay the expense of maintaining this site
Click Here for the Neighborhood Transformation Website
February 27, 2007
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
Grove affordable development deal expiresA year
ago, several Village West nonprofits agreed to support developments
along Grand Avenue. But a time limit ran out, and the deal is now back
to square one.
BY DAVID SMILEY
Grove Village West community and a group of developers that hopes to
build projects on Grand Avenue may be experiencing an extreme case of
The developers, headed by Coral Gables
attorney Julio Marrero, bought properties along five blocks of Grand
Avenue in 2002 and 2003, with the intent of building 12-story,
The projects would have uprooted
many living in apartments as well as landmarks like the Range Funeral
But the developments stalled with the 2005
City of Miami approval of a measure that capped developments in the
neighborhood at five stories. The ''Neighborhood Conservation
District'' was an attempt to preserve its traditional, Bahamian feel.
Concerned about gentrification, several Village West nonprofits agreed
on a deal with developers that gave $3 million to the community in
exchange for its support for five, seven-story buildings. The deal also
said that 25 percent of the units sold would go to Village West
residents at affordable prices.
time-sensitive agreement hinged on the resolution of a lawsuit Marrero
filed against the city concerning the height cap.
now residents, developers and the city have found themselves back where
''We're back to square one again after
wasting a tremendous amount of time and money,'' Marrero said.
and his partners were negotiating a deal with the city, but are tired
of delays and now plan to resume litigation, Marrero said. Meanwhile,
they've put the lots back up for sale.
West groups took some heat from other Grovites for supporting what some
said would set a precedent for a concrete canyon on Grand Avenue.
took years and years to develop the NCD [Neighborhood Conservation
District],'' said Gary Hecht, chairman of the Cocoanut Grove Village
Council. ``Anything above five stories we're opposed to.''
Johnson, president of the Village West Homeowners and Tenants
Association, said the community groups believed that if the developer
built at five stories, the projects would likely be unaffordable for
Village West residents.
Johnson said that many
residents left the area when they first heard of the developments, and
while others have lost interest in the issue, some want the developers
to sell their lots and leave.
Talks between the
community and Marrero have resumed, led by the Coconut Grove
Collaborative and its President and CEO, Jihad Rashid. The
collaborative's goal, Rashid said, is to make the developments
affordable for the developer and community at five stories with
subsidies from the collaborative, banks and the city.
coming with the concept that the developer can't saddle the
responsibility of affordability alone,'' Rashid said. ``This is going
to take the private sector, the community and the public sector in a
compromising fashion to make it work.''
said the projects are unrealistic at five stories because the lots are
thin, meaning he has to include floors of parking.
2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff met Tuesday with Rashid and a group of
possible investors to discuss the subsidies, along with other projects.
2 receives little of the grant money Rashid hopes for and the amount is
reduced every year, Sarnoff said, adding he's not likely to support
''I didn't get into office to put up
large buildings,'' he said.
Besides placing the
properties up for sale, Marrero has raised rents to cut down on losses
accumulating from the property taxes he pays each month. Meanwhile,
empty lots owned by the developers remain just that -- empty and strewn