MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted 12-to-zero in favor of a special taxing district for the $1.7 billion Miami Worldcenter project.
At issue on Tuesday was whether the county should create a Community Development District, which allows the developers of the Miami Worldcenter project to charge an extra fee to its own merchants to pay for sidewalks and drainage.
The commission was expected to approve it, but Overtown activists wanted some big guarantees first. The developer’s promotional video shows a gleaming shopping center, retail and residential space, including a hotel and condos with a luxe rooftop pool.
Developers of the Miami Worldcenter project promise to make this section of downtown Miami called Park West the hottest spot in town. But many nearby Overtown residents, and Miami-Dade community activists, fear this big development will change the historic makeup of this area and push people who’ve lived for generations out.
“We want to preserve the people who have been there for a long time and give them opportunity to be able to work and play and live still in the same area,” Bishop James Adams of the New Poor People’s Movement told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
The coalition of activist groups fighting the project have won several concessions from Miami Worldcenter Associates and the Forbes Company.
“He’s conceded on some of the responsible wages for the permanent jobs, he’s conceded on a few of the points but no teeth to it,” said Dream Defenders leader Umi Selah.
Activists wanted more benefits for Overtown residents, written into the contract, before the County green lighted the developer assessing the special fee.
“The community wants free public wi-fi, they want a labor agreement that allows them to form a union once they do get some of the jobs in the hotel,” said Saleh.
The Miami Community Redevelopment Agency for the area approved $88-million in public dollars for the project last December. Mayor Carlos Gimenez says no county tax dollars will be used and he sees the economic benefits this high-scale project could deliver.
“This development is going to create I think thousands of jobs, that’s very important and my hope is that a large portion go to the people of Overtown, go to the people of Miami-Dade.”
Mayor Gimenez told Zea that he’s working on a Memorandum of Understanding with the developer and Career Source that will require the developer to identify all open jobs, so Overtown residents can get first dibs.