The Real Deal Miami

Public welfare and profit are served by temporary Overtown park

January 23, 2012 03:45PM

Clockwise from top left: Developer Glenn Straub, Grand Central Park and Brad Knoefler

The green space that opened Friday atop the remains of the old Miami Arena is both the story of a gritty entrepreneur unrelenting in his pursuit of a community space and a greedy developer swindling profit out of his vacant lot.

The Miami Herald said that Brad Knoelfer is servicing the Overtown community by temporarily leasing the five-acre site at 700 NW 1st Avenue, across from the Grand Central music venue he developed. While owner Glenn Straub awaits financing for a convention center on the site, Knoefler is using $200,000 of taxpayer money to finance construction of a public park, called Grand Central Park, on what would otherwise be a site in disrepair. During Heat home games, Knoefler will offer cheap parking on the plaza and food trucks for a tailgate atmosphere.

But according to Tiffany Dallas, a master’s student at Florida International University cited by the Miami New Times, a pile of rubble on private land should not be the community’s responsibility — in the form of its $200,000 — to maintain. Straub should be forced to keep his land from becoming an eyesore in a neighborhood that already suffers from blight. Rather than helping a community grow around his planned development by beautifying the lot, Straub is profiting off of it while he waits construction financing and approval. [Miami Herald] and [Miami New Times]