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Miami Herald - February 27, 2009
Developer seeks money from North Miami before construction
has yet to begin, but the developer of North Miami's first affordable
housing project is saying it wants to get paid.
BY CARLI TEPROFF
Miami's first affordable housing project has yet to be built, but the
developer soon might get a payment from the city before construction
Developer Urban Residential Development Group, which is
scheduled to build the 136-unit Pioneer Gardens, is asking the city's
Community Redevelopment Agency to pay a portion of money it says it
already has spent on the project that has been beset by delays.
The company said the CRA should pay between $240,000 and $340,000.
CRA board agreed 4-1 Tuesday to allow its attorney and director to work
out an agreement with the company. Urban Residential is a subsidiary of
Boca Developers, the group building Biscayne Landing near Florida
International University's Biscayne Bay Campus. In 2003, the city and
Boca Developers, signed the Munisport Agreement, which allows the
company to build the sprawling mixed-use Biscayne Landing project. As
part of the agreement the company was also required to build one
affordable housing unit per unit built at Biscayne Landing.
Residential is in charge of building Pioneer Gardens at Northeast 137th
Street and Fifth Avenue. But environmental problems -- such as the
discovery of asbestos in the ground -- have set the project back. CRA
Director Tony Crapp Sr. said the city is waiting for an all-clear from
Miami-Dade County's department of environmental resource management.
Wallace IV, the company's vice president, told the council that Urban
Residential has worked for nearly five years without being paid. So
far, the company has submitted receipts for about $1.6 million of work,
including legal fees it said it incurred during the planning process.
As part of the October 2006 deal with Urban Development, the CRA agreed to pay 15 percent of the company's total cost.
agreement states the developers do not get payment from the CRA until
financing is secured, Crapp said. Financing can't be done until the
land is declared environmentally safe. Wallace said his company didn't
anticipate the setbacks and needs the money, especially in a flagging
''All we are asking for is that we get paid for work we've already done,'' Wallace said.
Mayor Kevin Burns said he believes it's in the city's best interest to give the company some money.
''I don't believe we are giving them an advance,'' he said. ``I believe we are giving them money they have already earned. ''
member Michael Blynn, the only board member to vote against
renegotiating the terms of payment, said the CRA should stick to the
''Why should we breach the contract?'' he asked. ``I feel bad for them, but it was their risk.''