Study cites blight, says Omni Community Redevelopment Agency can expand
By Risa Polansky
The results are in: Watson Island and Bicentennial Park fit the state's definition of slum and blight, a draft study says.
Miami and Miami-Dade County officials proposed expanding the city's Omni Community Redevelopment Agency to include the two locations, as well as nearby residential and commercial areas, as part of their global pact of major projects.
Expanding the agency to encompass the island and Bicentennial would allow redevelopment dollars to fund a port tunnel and revamp of the park — but the area needs to be declared blighted to do it.
It is, according to consultant OlmedilloX5.
"The major portion of Watson Island is presently vacant and underutilized and with limited infrastructure to support development," the report says. "Bicentennial Park remains undeveloped and vacant. These undeveloped areas present opportunities for the collection of trash and debris, and their limited use and activities create an insecure environment for potential visitors."
Maintenance conditions for Bicentennial Park and most of Watson Island are listed in the report as "fair." One parcel on the island is rated "good."
Many of the residential and commercial properties elsewhere in the proposed area are deemed "fair," "poor" or "derelict."
The study found also "undesirable traffic flow" through the area, as well as high vacancy rates and debris, among other conditions.
The Miami-Dade property appraiser lists 390 parcels in the proposed expanded zone, 108 of them vacant.
Global agreement opponents, including auto dealer Norman Braman, have said the island shouldn't qualify as slummed or blighted.