Miami rejects 16-story mixed-use project slated for Overtown
By Deserae del Campo
A proposed 16-story, 349-unit residential development in Overtown that met with strong citizen opposition failed to gain City Commission approval last week.
The $68 million Avenue One was to be built at 1950 NW First Ave., but residents said they feared the project would push them out of the neighborhood. Avenue One was to include 8,563 square feet of retail and 633 parking spaces.
A decision on the developer's request of a land-use and zoning change was deferred in May and June before its reading last week at city hall.
"We should make a decision about what comes in and what comes out of our neighborhood," said Overtown resident Darrel Roberts. "I was born and raised in Overtown for 33 years, and I say let's not be blind and let's not sell out."
Developer A-1 Management Corp. asked commissioners for a land-use change from general commercial and industrial to restricted commercial and a change in zoning from liberal commercial to restricted commercial.
A major-use special permit was slated to go before commissioners in September before they unanimously denied the land-use and zoning changes.
"I don't want to convert industrial land into commercial land, whatever the case may be," said Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.
Avenue One is in Commissioner Linda Haskins' district.
Land-use attorney Lucia Dougherty said unit prices would begin at $180,000.
That "may not seem like a lot of money, but it is for these residents in Overtown," said Ms. Spence-Jones. "The biggest problem is that people stop believing and stop having hope. Change is happening around us, and we have to be prepared for the future growth. We need to push hard to put people back into the neighborhoods."
"This is a very complex issue," said Commissioner T┌mas Regalado. "The residents of Overtown have been bombarded with promises for years and years about some affordable housing planned for the future. This area has a very deep sense of culture, and when you corner it and build and build projects not for the people, it is difficult to have hope."
Resident Karen Cartwright said growth should be accomplished with current residents in mind. "I have lived in Overtown for 13 years, and I would also like Overtown to change and grow. But I also want it to grow and include the people that live there."
Avenue One architect Dean Lewis of DB Lewis Architecture + Design said the project should be seen as an opportunity for Overtown. "This project is about urban revitalization and bringing in mixed-use revitalization of commercial and retail space. This is not high-end living."