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“TELLING THE CRA STORY: TOWN PARK PLAZA NORTH”

“TELLING THE CRA STORY: TOWN PARK PLAZA NORTH”

There have been recent articles about the Town Park Plaza North Rehabilitation $15 million project funded by the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (“CRA”) to rehabilitate 169 condominium units at Overtown’s Town Park Plaza North housing complex. Some articles left readers with the false impression that the CRA is responsible for fostering chaos at Town Park Plaza North when nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, by initiating this major full-gut rehabilitation project, the CRA has taken an extraordinary and unprecedented step to alleviate the unsafe living conditions that have plagued Town Park Plaza North for many years in one of “Miami’s most impoverished and neglected neighborhoods, Overtown.”

Constructed in the early 1970s as federally-funded cooperative housing, Town Park Plaza North converted to individually-owned condos in 2003.  The conversion along with property mismanagement led to years of deferred maintenance, and to make matters worse, the condominium association fell into bankruptcy and was ultimately placed into a court-appointed receivership.  Over the years, conditions had deteriorated so bad that in 2015, at the start of the current CRA sponsored rehabilitation project, many units had collapsed ceilings from water leaks, widespread termite damage, severe pest infestations, and the obvious appearance and odor of mold.  Observing these conditions first-hand, the CRA felt a great sense of urgency to move quickly to start the project and to provide immediate relief for residents.  To date, roofs on all 21 buildings have been replaced with brand new metal roofs that have a usage life of 40 years.  Windows and doors on all 169 units as well as the community building have been replaced with new, high-impact windows and doors. While interior and exterior rehabilitation has been completed on three buildings, which includes asbestos remediation and the conversion from shared water meters to individual water meters for all units, six additional buildings are under construction and scheduled to be completed by mid-Summer 2017.  In addition, the CRA’s efforts have resulted in a new City of Miami ordinance that provides an automatic deferral of solid waste surcharges for CRA workforce and affordable housing projects, a deferral that was previously only available to City of Miami-funded projects and now extends to all City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agencies.

It’s clear that this project is “ambitious.”  Indeed, no other CRA in Florida has attempted to undertake such an enormous and daunting project that encompasses the full-gut rehabilitation and site improvements to an entire 21-builidng housing complex as well as the temporary relocation of all 169 families that live there.  Indeed, previous administrations going as far back as City of Miami Commissioners Arthur Teele and Michelle Spence-Jones struggled with how to remedy the deteriorating situation at Town Park Plaza North.  It wasn’t until the current administration and the leadership of Commissioner Keon Hardemon, that relief is now finally on its way.  Have there been challenges?  Yes.  Have there been delays?  Yes.  But for a project of this size and scope, any developer will tell you that these sorts of issues will arise.  We acknowledge that some residents are frustrated with the delays but we ask them to continue to be patient.  Despite the challenges, we have always been committed to seeing this project through to the end and continue to work closely with the contractor and relocation company to keep the project on schedule.  We remain confident that once completed the renovations will enhance the quality of life of the residents who live in Town Park Plaza North and have a lasting impact on our community.