Greene Dreams Shoe Repair was forced out of its Miami-Dade County-owned building at Northwest Seventh Avenue and Northwest 62nd Street after the county deemed the structure unsafe and demolished it last year.
Mop City Barber Shop remains on Northwest Seventh Avenue, south of Northwest 62nd Street, in the lone building left on the tract between Interstate-95, Northwest Seventh Avenue and Northwest 62nd and 61st streets slated to become the Seventh Avenue Transit Village.
The Transit Village will include a taxi, bus and jitney hub, 120 units of affordable and senior housing, a three-level garage, retail stores and a black box theater.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who represents Liberty City, said the developers decided to offer Greene Dreams and Mop City to return at the same rent because they are community institutions.
“They were two historical businesses in the building and they have been there for years,” she said. Mop City owner Johnny Cheeley wouldn’t talk about the offer while Greene Dreams’ owner couldn’t be reached.
Nearly a decade in the making, the project didn’t get off the ground until 2011, when the county gave Carlisle Development Group of Miami the construction contract. Florida’s largest builder of affordable housing,
Carlisle is among the top in the nation. But Carlisle lost the project when it was disclosed last year that it was under federal investigation for allegedly defrauding the US government by padding construction costs.
Miami-Dade commissioners approved the project’s transfer to the Miami-based Atlantic|Pacific Companies and the non-profit BAME Development Corporation of South Florida in September.
Because A|P has little experience building affordable housing, the firm hired former Carlisle employees who were working on the project, as well as the company’s former chief operating officer, Kenneth Naylor.
BAME, an affiliate of Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church in Overtown, has built affordable projects and partnered with A|P to obtain funding only available to nonprofits.
“We’re targeting getting started on light prep work in March,” said Naylor. Although the owners of Greene Dreams Shoe Repair are welcome to return, Naylor said they have not responded to offers. Naylor said the transit village will be built around the 43-year-old barbershop.
Edmonson said the beginning of construction is the culmination of a years-long effort to meet the community’s needs. “The community is excited because they’re the ones looking forward to it,” she said.
Crystal Flanders, a street-marketer for H&R Block who has lived in Liberty City for almost five years, said the transit village could provide jobs and housing, but wondered whether it will really be affordable.
“That would be great, but the rent is going to be very high,” she said. Some community leaders also look forward to the project’s completion. Taj Brown, CEO of the Belafonte TACOLCY Center, said the transit village will serve children and families and be “a vibrant economic venture” in the community. “This community deserves it,” he said.
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