Avra Jain turns to Overtown for next restoration project

Developer aims to rehab five rental buildings using CRA funds

Rendering of project and Avra Jain (Credit: City of Miami)
Rendering of project and Avra Jain (Credit: City of Miami)

UPDATED, Feb. 21, 6:10 p.m.: Real estate developer Avra Jain is looking at Overtown for her next big preservation project – and wants the area’s community development agency to help fund it.

The Omni Community Redevelopment Agency submitted a proposal to the Miami City Commission, including a request by Avra Jain’s Vagabond Group to buy and restore five garden apartment buildings just south of Northwest 16th Street, between Northwest First Court and Northwest First Place.

The CRA is asking commissioners to approve a waiver to remove competitive sealed bidding on the property. If approved, the Omni CRA will grant Jain $2 million to restore the property, and lend the developer a $1.8 million mortgage that will allow the units to maintain their rents for the next 30 years.

Currently, average monthly rents in the apartment buildings range from $460 for a studio apartment, to $554 for a one-bedroom apartment, $673 for a two-bedroom apartment and $825 for a three-bedroom apartment, according to CRA’s director of planning and policy Adam Old.

The properties at 1541 and 1535 Northwest First Place and 1540 Northwest First Court are currently owned by DSI Place LLC, led by Dmitri Sytchev. Records show Sytchev paid $145,000 for all five properties in 2013. The buildings were built between 1949 and 1952.

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“They are pretty run-down and would definitely benefit from improvements,” Old said via email.

The commission will vote on the proposal on Thursday. It needs four out of five votes to pass. Funding will come from the CRA’s tax increment financing program, which sets aside roughly 10 percent of its revenue, per year, for housing affordability projects.

Workforce housing advocates have hailed preservation as a way to keep rent-regulated complexes from being foreclosed and possibly losing their affordability. Jain recently renovated more than 20 affordable housing units in Little Haiti, which she funded from a $500,000 low-interest loan from Miami-Dade County.

She’s also known for restoring properties along Biscayne Boulevard in MiMo, including the Vagabond Hotel, Stephens International Hotel and South Pacific Motel, as well as the Miami River Inn near the Miami River.

Meanwhile, some massive projects are planned for Overtown. David Beckham is launching a 25,000-seat, $200 million MLS Stadium to be built on a nine-acre development site between Northwest Sixth and Eighth streets, north of the Miami River. The mixed-use Miami Worldcenter is also under development, and is among the Miami sites pitched to Amazon for its second headquarters.