An affordable housing project 27 years in the making is slated to break ground Wednesday in South Miami.
The three-story building will include 40 rental units. It located at the heart of the Marshall Williamson community, north of U.S. 1 , near the intersection of SW 59th Place and SW 64th Street, close to the University of Miami, South Miami Hospital and the South Miami Metrorail station.
“The location of this project, built close to the downtown area, means residents are in close proximity to employment opportunities,” said Ned Murray, an associate director at the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center:
The building feature 13,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space as well as parking.
Affordable housing is designed for households earning between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income — in Miami-Dade, between $30,000 and $60,000. A family living in one of Madison Square’s two-bedroom units measuring 750 square feet can expect to pay $800, said Robert Welsh, a South Miami commissioner.
“South Miami has lost about 150 affordable housing units to the bulldozer,” said Welsh. “Landlords did not keep units in good condition, they got condemned and flattened. We’re short on affordable housing.” Completion is expected in about 18 months.
The South Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) donated the land to Abreu Development LLC with the agreement that the developer would provide affordable housing for 40 years. Abreu can then charge market rent after the term ends.
Abreu will fill the western part of the ground floor with a dollar store at the request of nearby residents. It is looking for another retail tenant to fill another 1,200 square feet of commercial space.
South Miami’s affordable housing talks started in 1992, Welsh said. Momentum picked up in 2015 when South Miami’s commissioners looked at the current Madison Square location. Concerns from residents soon followed, and the project was scaled back from the original proposal of 75 units.
What made the project feasible, said FIU’s Murray, is that the CRA supplied the land and had federal money.
“It’s rare in our research in Florida for local government to have designed a land acquisition and disposition program. That is critical to a local government’s efforts to provide affordable housing,” said Murray.
He plans to use Madison Square as an example of how municipalities can incorporate affordable housing into their respective master plans and blueprints.
“This is the best use of money, Murray said. “It’s great to have local examples of best practices of how this can be done.”