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June 4, 2010 - Miami Herald
Overtown condo owners seek help to repair aging buildings
Overtown condo owners protest the cost of repairs to their building
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By THEO KARANTSALIS
Residents of Overtown's Town Park condos and co-ops are worried the
cost of major repairs to their buildings could force them from their
Town Park is a nine-acre, low-rise apartment complex built in 1970 by
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 40-year-old
buildings are in need of repairs and residents cannot afford the
special assessments to make them.
Residents took their concerns to Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey
Edmonson and Miami City Commissioner Richard Dunn II Tuesday at a
meeting in Overtown.
The elected leaders brought along specialists to answer questions,
including Rickert Glasgow of the county's Office of Community and
Economic Development and James Villacorta, director of Miami's
Community Redevelopment Agency.
Overtown residents from Town Park Village, Town Park North and Town
Park Plaza South took notes as officials explained the difference
between a condo and a co-op and possible funding sources.
The Village and Plaza South are condos. North is a co-op. There are
three separate by-laws, boards of directors and rules of procedure.
``I wish Arthur Teele was here to help us figure all this out,'' said
resident Andrea Copeland, who attended the first meeting related to
concerns about Town Park in 2004, when the late Miami Commissioner
Arthur E. Teele Jr. presided as chairman of the Overtown Advisory Board.
Teele explained that a co-op owner ``is a shareholder who has an
indivisible ownership of the piece of paper that owns the entity,''
according to the June 17, 2004, board minutes.
Fast forward to 2010 and residents await answers as to how to fix
structural building problems and where to get funding for repairs.
Villacorta made it clear that there are two ``CRAs'' the other being the Community Reinvestment Act.
``We're here to tell you how the county can provide assistance to help you address your issues,'' said Glasgow.
But Glasgow warned the county is limited because the units are privately owned.
Throughout the three-hour workshop, both sides understood and traded
acronyms like CDC, for Community Development Corp., CDBG, for Community
Development Block Grant, and others.
``I'm representing both North and South and we're reaching out to you
as we face paying our assessment fees,'' said Copeland, who came
prepared with an outline of questions. Edmonson paused and applauded
her for calling the meeting and taking a leadership role to help her
One by one, folks raised their hands, waited to be recognized, and asked questions.
``Which agency will be on the hook to fund the co-op,'' said Don
Patterson, president of Mt. Zion Developments. ``Is it the CRA
[Community Redevelopment Agency], the city or the county?''
Facing $400 million in cuts this year, Edmonson conceded the county ``couldn't come up with that kind of money.''
Edmonson added: ``The co-op falls under HUD [Housing and Urban
Development] and that's the federal government, so you're coming to the
Enter U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Miami Democrat whose district includes Overtown.
``We'll reach out to HUD and set up a meeting for you,'' said Joyce Postell, Meek's district director.
Led by Dunn, at the end of the meeting, everyone stood, held hands, bowed heads and prayed for help.
``This is about the American Dream,'' said Dunn. ``We're trying to help them find ways to keep their homes.''