Liberty City foreclosure risks $12M in taxpayer funds

April 13, 2012 03:45PM

Otis Pitts, Jr. and the shopping center at 635 NW 62nd Street

A foreclosure lawsuit at a Liberty City shopping center is jeopardizing $11.6 million in taxpayer funds, the South Florida Business Journal reported. Peninsula Developers President Otis Pitts, Jr. took out a $7.2 million leasehold mortgage from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to sign a long-term lease and develop a shopping center for the property at 635 NW 62nd Street.

His Peninsula Edison Plaza also recieved a $3.4 million loan from the City of Miami and an additional $1 million loan from the county. Taxpayers funded these loans because Pitts, Jr. built a 79,942-square-foot shopping complex at the property, bringing jobs and retailers to an impoverished neighborhood that badly needs them.

But Miami-Dade County filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the center this week, alleging it has not made payments under mortgages or the proeprty leases and did not deliver financial statements to the county for four years. Pitts also did not live up to the requirements of the construction loan that he bring 206 jobs to the site with more than half going to low-income individuals. The county can’t take the property, but wants to take control of the lease. It would be responsible for paying whatever rent Pitts, Jr. can’t cover. [SFBJ]