Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez says his dedication to reallocate $3 million from a Coconut Grove project to South Miami’s Madison Square development project isn’t the only way he is gearing up to help the city.
Suarez, who represents the county’s District 7, and his office staff have traveled frequently from downtown to South Miami, meeting with the Community Redevelopment Agency, community leaders and the project’s developer, Green Mills LLC.
“We are strongly considering putting major Targeted Urban Area (TUA) money into that,” Suarez said. “It has been allocated up to now to a project in the Grove, but we think that the deadline for them to take advantage of that will expire.”
The land at 5978 SW 64th St. currently sits vacant as the CRA and city mull a density issue. The mixed-use project was originally slated for 40-units. Disagreement within the project stems from added density requiring between two and four stories.
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South Miami’s comprehensive plan has a limit of 24 residential units per acre, but the Florida Housing Finance Corporation recently established a 75-unit minimum density requirement for its 9 percent tax credit subsidy.
Green Mills LLC principal and founder Oscar Sol has been advising the city on how it could get to the 75-unit criteria for tax credit financing.
“The $3 million helps in the sense that some of the tax credits are pay cycles that provide preferential treatment for projects that have a lot of local government support,” Sol said. “It could make a difference in that way. We could potentially develop the project without tax credits, but if we wanted 9 percent tax credit, it is very competitive and very difficult to get. We might be able to go with a noncompetitive 4 percent tax credit. Which is noncompetitive, but you need a lot of local government funding in order to make that work.”
Sol said that if the development goes for the 4 percent credit, it would not need to go up to 75-units, but moving to the lower tax credit would “lose about half of the funding.”
“Because the city is so advanced in the environmental fields. … Its mayor uses solar energy for his own home,” Suarez said. “One of the things we have in the proposal for TUA and have ran by the county attorneys, is a renewable energy component as part of the project. The only question is how much of the $3 million are we going to allocate to South Miami. We are in the midst of that. The city should make their move Oct. 1 in terms of taking back over the project.”
The fiscal budget year begins on Oct. 1, the same date at which Suarez must reallocate the $3 million. The money is a reimbursement that goes toward building the infrastructure and any infrastructure improvements needed to support the project.
An affordable housing workshop will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 30, in the Stephen P. Clark Government Center’s board of county commissioner’s chambers.
City Manager Steven Alexander said city staff is currently doing technical work that needs to be done prior to writing an ordinance that would eventually face the city’s commission. Alexander said he doesn’t expect anything on the agenda for about a month.
“It’s a work in progress and the directions have been changed a couple times on this thing,” Alexander said. “We are trying to turn around as fast as we can and get to a position that gives the commission what they need to restructure it so we can get it funded.”
Sol said he has advised the CRA and city to try to increase the density to allow for more options while he looks at alternative funding sources.
“Unfortunately right now we are advising the city to try to get to the 75 units so we can compete for the 9 percent credit,” Sol said. “Simultaneously, I have met with members of the CRA and members of Suarez’s office to try to figure out if there is any other funding that might become available to go the 4 percent route.”
Sol added that if the project gets financing and a November tax credit application approved, it could possibly break ground by “late next year.”
“But right now it’s not a definitive timeline, because until that tax credit financing is lined up, there is no design,” Sol said. “It’s all conceptual at this point. It won’t start until the funding is in place.”
While Sol says some residents question if increased density could “threaten the city’s hometown character,” he also says it doesn’t have to be an eyesore.
“I think the community leaders in the CRA are pushing for higher density because they want a viable project that will create jobs and that sort of thing,” Sol said. “There are other people that maybe don’t live in the CRA that are concerned about density. I guess they advocate for the hometown character of South Miami and are worried that more density might create some challenges.”
“I think that we have basically demonstrated, due to various site plans and recently we met with the CRA, where you can get more density without necessarily having it be an ugly or imposing building. You can get the density if it’s designed well and it doesn’t have to threaten the hometown character of South Miami. I think we have demonstrated that and hopefully that will carry some support in trying to get higher density so that we can get this on track and open up some more options for financing.”
If you go
An affordable housing workshop will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 30, in the Stephen P. Clark Government Center’s board of county commissioner’s chambers, 111 NW First St., Miami.