gregg-fortner_web.jpgA development group under federal investigation for alleged fraud received $2.6 million from Miami-Dade County to complete a rehabilitation project it acquired in 2011.

The deal gave Miami-based Carlisle Development Group the right to rehabilitate 20 units of public housing at the Green Turnkey Plaza in Allapattah last July. Two months later, Carlisle gave up four other affordable housing projects including the Seventh Avenue Transit Village in Liberty City, which 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. This was because, according to the Miami Herald, the group couldn’t find financing while under investigation. Carlisle retained 25 other county projects.

Atlantic|Pacific Communities which, according to state records, shares an office with Carlisle at 2950 SW 27th Ave., acquired the four projects Carlisle lost, and hired some of Carlisle’s employees to complete the development. Members of A|P’s staff are working on the Green Turnkey development, which still belongs to Carlisle, according to Kenneth Naylor, Carlisle’s former chief operating officer and current COO of A|P Communities.

A federal grand jury has been investigating Carlisle, the country’s third largest developer of affordable housing, for allegedly padding construction costs on other housing projects since late 2011.

The county acknowledges the investigation in a document from last July describing the Allapattah deal.

“Unrelated to this project, the developer is under investigation for alleged inappropriate financial transactions regarding other housing developments,” says the document authorizing a master development agreement. “The County is aware that a subpoena regarding this matter was issued to the developer July 2012.” But, the document continues, “there are sufficient layers of

compliance in place to protect the county’s interest in this project.”

Gregg Fortner, the county’s director of public housing and community development for Miami-Dade County, said Carlisle is to rehabilitate the Green Turnkey Plaza which consists of 20 county-owned, public housing units located at Carlisle’s development site, Washington Square.

He said Carlisle was approved despite the federal investigation because the group had already been awarded tax credits by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in 2011.

“We had no ability to say we are not going to do business with them,” said Fortner. He said, had the FHFA pulled back funding after learning of the allegations, the county would not be in business with them.

“This is a country where you are innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

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