MIAMI — The Overtown Youth Center is now able to enhance its programs and extend serices offered to the Overtown community.

On Monday, June 14,  the center was presented  with a $100,000 donation from Maryland based Wexford Science & Technology, a real estate investment and development company, and the Urban Research Park, which “provides grants to local nonprofits to undertake programs designed to meet the needs of the low-income communities,” according to its website.

Eighty percent of the monies are earmarked for the center’s youth programs, 13 percent for adult programs and seven percent for operations and administrative support, according to Bill Diggs, the Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc. board chair.

Diggs is also CEO and president of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, which advocates for black-owned businesses.

“This is an ideal 501c3 to receive the dollars,” said Juan-Carlos del Valle, University of Miami (UM) director of government

“They are engaged in fantastic work and this will help further their mission,” he said.

Diggs said that the monies are “well needed,” adding that some of it will also be used to purchase food and school supplies. All of the money, Diggs said, will stay in the Overtown community.

“The kids will continue to receive medical help like eye examinations as well as tutoring. This is all about enhancing what we
already do.”

The center, located at 450 NW 14th Street in Miami, provides services to children enrolled in Overtown’s public schools as well as their families.  Alonzo Mourning Charities is the center’s principal owner.

Wexford is also the private developer building the first phase of UM’s Life Science & Technology Park in Overtown.

The 8.8-acre development will be located on the eastern section of UM’s Jackson campus adjacent to the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. The land is bordered by Interstate 95 on the east, Northwest 7th Avenue on the west; Northwest 20th Street on the north and the Dolphin Expressway on the south.

The first of five buildings planned for completion, a 252,000-square-foot office development for biotech and research companies is scheduled to open in the summer of 2011, according to del Valle.

No date is confirmed for the other four buildings, he said. Del Valle said monies donated to the center were made available by the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC). Funds must be donated to a non-profit within the community in which the building is taking place.

NMTC is a community development lending tool designed to stimulate the flow of investment in underserved communities by creating new jobs and accelerating economic revitalization.

The program was created as part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000, which encourages private capital investment in low-income communities by providing a 39-percent federal tax credit to investors.

The park is a one-half-billion-dollar development, Diggs said, and “is all about empowering the community.”

Some Overtown residents have a different view point.

In a meeting held earlier this month at Overtown’s Town Park Community Center, residents expressed concerns about UM’s building in their neighborhood, citing gentrification as its motive.

“They want us out and I’m too old to move,” 73-year-old Lester Beasley told the South Florida Times.

“I have no place to go,” he said. “I just don’t know what will happen next.”

Beasley, a life-long resident of Overtown, said that his main concern is “whether the kids who grew up here can stay here, or have to leave the neighborhood for jobs.”

Del Valle said, however, that what UM is doing is not gentrification.

Gentrification, del Valle explained, starts with displacement and then creating housing opportunities for others.

“There will be no displacement of any individuals,” he said, adding that the park will “lead to jobs, job training and other opportunities for people to be a part of.”

Regarding the contracting, del Valle said, “we have a partnership with the [Miami-Dade] Chamber [of Commerce] to create significant opportunities for black-owned businesses within the community and ensure that they get the work.”

Individuals from communities including Liberty City, Allapattah and Wynwood, del Valle said, “will all benefit.”