Miami-Dade County

Miami commission vote on Little Haiti mega-development pushed back to March 28

Magic City Innovation District is coming to Little Haiti

Neil Fairman, chairman of Plaza Equity Partners, one of the developers of the Magic City Innovation District, leads a tour of the site of the mixed-use development in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018.
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Neil Fairman, chairman of Plaza Equity Partners, one of the developers of the Magic City Innovation District, leads a tour of the site of the mixed-use development in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018.

A controversial Miami commission vote on a massive $1 billion real-estate development in Little Haiti has been delayed another two weeks until March 28.

On Feb. 28, a tumultuous commission meeting ended without a vote on the Magic City Innovation District, a major redevelopment proposal that has divided the community in Little Haiti and stoked gentrification fears. The item was automatically postponed until the commission’s next planning and zoning meeting on March 28, but Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who is pushing to approve the project, placed it on Thursday’s agenda as a new piece of legislation in order to get a vote sooner.

Emails from March 7 and March 11 state that since the Feb. 28 meeting, the developers have discussed the matter with Hardemon, who is expected to pull the item at Thursday’s meeting and allow the project to come back for initial approval March 28.

“I’m writing to let you know that we have discussed with the Commissioner’s office, and we believe these items sponsored by Commissioner Hardemon will be voluntarily deferred by him at the 3/14 hearing, and instead we will be focusing on the continuation of the existing legislation on 3/28,” wrote Benjamin Hedrick, an attorney representing Magic City, to a city planning department staff member.

Sculptor and galleriest Pablo Atchugarry along with his son, Piero, has open Atchugarry Art Center in Little Haiti featuring some of his sculptures. Atchugarry Art Center is the newest addition to the Upper Eastside gallery scene.

The Magic City plan was thrust into a wider spotlight Tuesday when one of the project’s main investors, local businessman Robert Zangrillo, was charged with bribing University of Southern California administrators to recruit his daughter for the crew team, even though she has never rowed competitively. He was snared in a nationwide investigation into college admissions bribery schemes.

The decision to wait until March 28 for a vote on the project was not based on Tuesday’s indictment, emails show.

Zangrillo appeared in Miami federal court Wednesday morning, where the judge granted him $500,000 bail and imposed travel restrictions, according to Herald news partner CBS4.

It is unclear if representatives from the Magic City Innovation District will address commissioners at all on Thursday.

Herald staff writer Rene Rodriguez contributed to this report.
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