Work to start on redevelopment of Andrew-ravaged area
By Samantha Joseph
Developers plan to start constructing infrastructure this month for a 200-acre village with 1,600 homes, offices and retail space in the southern Miami-Dade County neighborhood of Naranja.
De Guardiola Properties, D.R. Horton, GC Homes Inc. and Vista Partners plan to start designing streets and sewer systems within two weeks for a neighborhood to be called Mandarin Lakes. They expect to start construction of new homes in August and complete the community by 2011.
The developers will use a $20 million allocation approved this month by Miami-Dade County commissioners to build new water and sewer systems, roads, street lighting and landscaping.
County commissioners see the money as an investment that will draw strong returns - $240 million in home sales, according to developer George de Guardiola, and a community on a site that now stands deserted.
The move is part of a far-reaching 30-year public plan to develop more than 1,200 acres in Naranja, north of Homestead in unincorporated southern Miami-Dade. The plan stemmed from efforts to revitalize the area in the wake of Hurricane Andrew's destruction in 1992.
The 200-acre site chosen for Mandarin Lakes was the site of about 1,500 condominiums destroyed in the hurricane, according to Jurgen Teintze, who coordinates tax increment financing at the county's Office of Strategic Business Management.
"South Miami-Dade is a hot real estate market," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson. "We expect that there is going to be a lot of interest in this development."
When the hurricane swept through South Florida in 1992, Naranja was among the areas that lost thousands of homes and residents.
Mandarin Lakes, a joint venture of the county and private developers, is set to be a community of thousands of homeowners and renters, retailers and other businesses.
The development is part of a far-reaching, 30-year public plan sprouted about a decade ago to develop more than 1,200 acres in Naranja.
In May 2003, county commissioners approved creation of the community redevelopment plan to stimulate growth.
They allocated $20 million June 8 to finance infrastructure, which includes water and sewer systems, roads, street lighting and landscaping.
The county sees the investment as a first step in jump-starting Naranja's economy, said Jurgen Teintze, who coordinates tax financing at the county's Office of Strategic Business Management.
The idea is that private investment would outweigh the tax-dollar contribution.
George de Guardiola, the main developer of Mandarin Lakes, expects the development to bring about $240 million in home sales.
"I think it's actually a very good deal," Mr. Teintze said, "in terms of the public investment leveraging a very large amount of private investment."
In formulating the redevelopment plan, planners hoped the development would spur further investment in southern Miami-Dade County.
Before work has started on Mandarin Lakes, crowding in other parts of the county has forced developers to look southward at Naranja and the nearby city of Homestead.
Homestead's planning and economic development administrator, Charles LaPradd, said the city's population has grown 10% since 2000 and 12,000 homes are under construction or in the approval process.
Mr. de Guardiola, president of de Guardiola Properties, said about 2,000 residences are under construction near the Naranja site.
"South Miami-Dade is a hot real estate market," said County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, who represents the area. "We expect that there is going to be a lot of interest in this development."
Homes in Mandarin Lakes are expected to carry price tags between $130,000 and $230,000.