Overtown CRA says affordable housing is on the rise

Projects include the Plaza at the Lyric, Island Living Apartments and Courtside Apartments

Apr.April 05, 2016 04:30 PM

With construction for All Aboard Florida’s MiamiCentral project and Miami Worldcenter underway, the blighted neighborhood of Overtown is poised for a boom during the current real estate cycle.

And as gentrification begins to take hold in the area, officials with Miami’s Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency say they have work is well underway to make sure the neighborhood has a healthy stock of affordable housing.

Work crews are putting the finishing touches on The Plaza at the Lyric, a mixed-use apartment tower at 919 Northwest Second Avenue that has 158 affordable rental units with one, two and three bedroom apartments. Overtown CRA Executive Director Clarence Woods told The Real Deal the agency was able to provide $17 million in bond financing to the developer, which then used the funds to leverage an additional $28 million to build the tower, which is adjacent to the Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown.

Woods said the CRA’s goal is to make sure some of Miami’s poorest residents aren’t priced out by skyrocketing rental rates and a lack of financing for homeownership. “There’s a lot of private investors looking at Overtown,” Woods said. “Speculation is at an all-time high.”

While leading a media tour of the CRA’s affordable housing projects, Woods said Miami residents who earn 60 percent or less of the median income in Miami-Dade County will get first crack at the Plaza’s apartment. The project was developed by Lyrid Housing, a partnership between Miami-based Mount Zion Developments, led by Ralph M. Ross, and Mansfield, Ma.-based Gatehouse Group.

The trolley bus tour also made stops at other affordable housing projects that have received financial assistance from the CRA. Last month, residents began moving into the recently completed Island Living Apartments at 1201 Northwest Third Avenue. The 70-unit rental building includes 5,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor for retail, a fitness center, community lounge/event space, and a playground area for children. The $22 million project received $9 million in financing from the CRA.

About five blocks north and one block west, Courtside Apartments is under construction. Developed in partnership with retired NBA star and current Miami Heat executive Alonzo Mourning, Courtside consists of 84 affordable rental units with one, two and three bedrooms. Residents will have a state of the art theater/media room, computer lab, library, fitness center, basketball court and playground.

The CRA is also funding the $35 million rehabilitation and renovation of 432 existing affordable units at Town Park Plaza North, Town Park Plaza South and Town Park Village. According to Woods, the CRA is spending approximately $50,000 per unit by installing new kitchen cabinets, stainless steel appliances, stone floor tiles, and other interior renovations. The agency is paying for residents to stay in temporary housing until the construction work is finished.

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