(Florida International University)- The developer of the Seventh Avenue Transit Village has agreed to meet with a coalition of community activists who want him to promise the project will include jobs and job training for Liberty City residents, as well as affordable housing and other benefits.
Matthew Greer, CEO of Carlisle Development Group, said in a letter to the Alliance for Urban Survival that he hoped the meeting would help the company reach consensus with local political, social, spiritual and community leaders.
“We look forward to meeting with your group in order to gain a better understanding of your goals and hopefully to begin to create that consensus,” Greer said in the letter responding to the coalition’s request to meet.
Greer told Liberty City Link such a meeting would have to be organized by the office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson.
“Since we have only so many staff members, we rely on the local elected officials to coordinate these meetings,” Greer said in a statement released by Carlisle’s public relations firm.
Edmonson’s office reports no recent requests to coordinate such a meeting.
Carlisle won a county contract to build the transit village at the corner of Northwest Seventh Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard (Northwest 62nd Street). The project will include a bus, taxi and jitney hub, retail space and as many as 200 affordably-priced condominiums. Carlisle has a reputation for building high-quality, environmentally responsible projects in low-income areas, including a similar transit village in Brownsville and the Village Allapattah apartments.
Members of the alliance and an affiliated group, the Alliance for Community Wealth, are seeking an iron-clad agreement requiring Carlisle to train and hire workers from the community, guarantee space to existing businesses at affordable rates and build community meeting and resource space.
Earlier this year, members of the Miami Workers Center, local business owners who would be displaced by the project and a number of residents attempted to obtain a so-called “community benefits agreement” from Carlisle through speaking at Miami-Dade County Commission meetings and demonstrating in the streets.
Edmonson said at the time that the contract between the county and Carlisle already included much of what would be included in the demands and that negotiating side agreements could discourage other developers in the future.
Edmonson represents Miami-Dade Commission District 3, which includes Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown, the Upper East Side, Allapattah, and Wynwood, as well as the Village of El Portal, Miami Shores Village, and parts of North Miami.
Hashim Yeomans-Benford, an organizer with the Miami Workers Center, which is a coalition member, insisted that an agreement was needed because it would be tailored to the specific needs of the community.
“It’s a tool to take it one step further,” Yeomans-Benford said. “It ensures greater accountability with concrete and measurable goals.”
The Alliance for Urban Revival comprises several organizations and activists, including the
Workers Center, the Belafonte-TACOLCY Center, the Overtown Alliance, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America — South Florida Chapter, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association.
“We believe projects receiving public dollars that are intended to spur economic revitalization, must be highly accountable and responsive to the needs and interests of local communities,” Yeomans-Benford said.
Patricia M. Gonzalez may be reached at email@example.com.