Overtown CRA green-lights $17.5M in Tri-Rail funding

Rendering of the Tri-rail station
A rendering of All Aboard Florida's MiamiCentral station.

As of Monday afternoon, Tri-Rail officials have secured nearly $40 million in public subsidies for the creation of a new commuter train stop at All Aboard Florida’s MiamiCentral station in downtown Miami. The Miami City Commission, acting as the board of the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, voted 4-0 to approve the release of $17.5 million in tax rebates for Tri-Rail’s plans.

Over the past few weeks, the city and Miami-Dade County have authorized an additional $22 million for the project, which entails the construction of two additional elevated platforms at the MiamiCentral station, the final stop for All Aboard Florida’s Orlando-to-Miami train that is currently under construction near the county’s downtown government center complex.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the parent company that operates the publicly funded Tri-Rail, is kicking in $5 million, but needs an additional $20 million from the Florida Department of Transportation to make the project a reality.

Tri-Rail is a commuter rail service that connects West Palm Beach to Miami, where it terminates at Miami International Airport. The state is building a new spur connecting Tri-Rail’s existing station in Hialeah to MiamiCentral, eliminating the need for commuters from Palm Beach and Broward to transfer to the Miami-Dade operated Metrorail to get to the city’s urban core.

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City commissioners approved the CRA’s $17.5 million contribution without discussion. The funds will come from property tax payments by MiamiCentral station, which also includes a massive commercial complex that will feature retail stores and offices.

To secure the CRA’s financing, Tri-Rail officials agreed to provide free Tri-Rail trips for poor residents in Overtown while All Aboard Florida promised to set aside 40 percent of the unskilled construction jobs for the Tri-Rail platform and 20 percent of the jobs related to station operation to residents of the redevelopment area and other specific zip codes in Miami’s poorest neighborhoods.

According to a June 15 letter from All Aboard Florida President Michael Reininger to the CRA board, the company is also agreeing to providing a community space to the agency at the MiamiCentral complex, discounted rents for tenants from the redevelopment area, and paid internships for teens.

“We are proud to expand upon our current partnership with the CRA,” Reininger wrote. “All Aboard Florida has repeatedly demonstrated its desire to both advance its project and the welfare of the Overtown community.”