Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday agreed to carve out a special tax district near Hard Rock Stadium to create a cultural center for Miami Gardens, which wants the entertainment hub as a way to jumpstart the economy.
County forecasts for the new district, known as a community redevelopment agency, show it could receive $136 million over 30 years, with the bulk of the money coming from city property taxes.
Miami-Dade already has more than a dozen redevelopment agencies, which spend property-tax revenue generated by increases in real estate values that occur after a district’s creation. The money diverts taxes from core government services like police, transit and roads, though redevelopment agency advocates argue the redevelopment spending boosts property values at a faster clip.
The planned cultural center, with a 1,000-seat theater and a catering center run by a culinary program, would rise on city-owned land within the district, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said. He said the facility will cost between $20 million and $40 million to build, and will offer the city a much-needed destination for residents.
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What we lack in Miami Gardens is a real place to hang out and spend time.
Mayor Oliver Gilbert
“What we lack in Miami Gardens,” Gilbert said, “is a real place to hang out and spend time.”
Both the city and county governments still need to approve how much money the district would actually collect each year by establishing what percentage of new property taxes it can keep. In a memo, Miami-Dade’s mayor cautioned that creating Miami Gardens’ first redevelopment agency will cost the county money, and that steps must be taken to preserve future funds for police, transit and other core services that rely on property taxes.
“During the negotiation of a [redevelopment agency] agreement with the City,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez wrote, “the County should negotiate financial terms that will not impact the County’s future budgets.” He said that could include Miami-Dade retaining a portion of the new property taxes generated within the district, or capping how much the redevelopment agency could collect.
The district does not include the city’s largest taxpayer, the Miami Dolphins’ newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium, but sits nearby. Gimenez cited the stadium as one reason to believe the district has extra potential for generating property-tax revenue in the future. The “proposed Area is not a typical agency; it is a major corridor that has seen much investment in the last few years…”
Last March, the Miami Gardens City Council approved a finding-of-necessity report done by Keith and Schnars, a Fort Lauderdale consulting firm.
The planned redevelopment area is along Northwest 27th Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, and extends northwest along the south side of 207th Street to include Vista Verde Park. Residents and elected officials have hoped to see the street developed since the city’s incorporation in 2003. The boundaries do not include the Calder Casino or race course.
City leaders have also proposed a town center area that would potentially include the arts center along with hotels, a movie theater, retail and restaurants.
The redevelopment area doesn’t include Hard Rock Stadium — the city’s biggest taxpayer — or the Calder Casino or race course.
In the past few years, an Aldi store, Sonic Beach restaurant and other shopping areas have sprung up. Northwest 27th Avenue will also be home to a Wawa convenience store, which will be one of the anchors of a new shopping center.
The Keith and Schnars report pointed to several streets in neighborhoods surrounding the corridor that need drainage improvements, dilapidated and vacant buildings and older housing stock as some indications of slum and blight in the area. The study also noted a high number of building code violations at some properties along the 27th Avenue corridor.
The Miami Gardens plans come after a year of heightened attention on redevelopment agencies after a grand jury report released in February 2016 criticized many of the Miami-Dade tax districts, saying that their focus centered on personal projects and not on the goals of eliminating slum and blight.
City leaders hope to avoid any issues by taking a modest approach in how they complete projects. They plan to encourage future investment around their larger developments while also keeping concerns from the grand jury report in mind.
“I don’t want us to get into a situation where we’re just doing things in a hodgepodge manner and there’s nothing cohesive, “ City Manager Cameron Benson said in an earlier interview. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t do anything that leads us into criticism.”