tyrone greene shoe shop_cc_fc_web.jpgFlorida International University

LIBERTY CITY — Plans for constructing a Seventh Avenue Transit Village moved a step forward Tuesday when a Miami-Dade County Commission committee recommended the full commission approve a lead developer.

But the approval came despite protests from residents who said no promises were given that their concerns will be addressed.

The commission's Information Management & Fiscal Responsibility Committee told commissioners they should designate Carlisle Development Group of Coral Gables to lead the nearly $100 million project to turn the southeast corner of Northwest Seventh Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard (Northwest 62nd Street) into a complex that will include businesses, a condominium complex and transportation connections.

Carlisle has worked on similar projects around the country.

The Federal Transit Administration, county general obligation bond money and the developer will provide the funding.

Tyrone Greene, owner of Greene Dream Shoe Repair, located on Northwest 62nd Avenue for more than 40 years and likely to be displaced by the development, expressed some of the community's frustration.

“Something has got to be done for a business that’s been there for that long,” Greene told the county committee.

Residents who attended the committee meeting held at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, as well as a stormy community meeting on Feb. 3 at the Church of the Open Door on Northwest 62nd Street, said the county was moving ahead with the project without talking to them.

“No one should dictate for us what our quality of life should be when we choose to live somewhere,” said Alison Austin, director of the Belafonte TACOLCY community center.

Democratic Party activist Mae Christian asked, “Who is this Carlisle? Is he a black developer? We need to be careful who we form an alliance with.”
Kevin D. Scott of CRS Community Development Inc. complained that local contractors are never given enough work on such projects.

“I’m tired of all this hoopla and broken promises,” Scott said. “There are never people that look like us involved in working on these projects. There’s only half a percent of participation by local contractors. They are tricky and are able to find loopholes to keep us out of work.”

The Miami Workers Center had been attempting to negotiate with Carlisle but those talks ended over the weekend.

The center's demands include promises that Carlisle will train and hire workers from the community and guarantee space to existing businesses in the new complex at current rents.

“These are issues that really matter to people and, because of the broken promises in the past, people have a lot of pent-up frustrations that they needed to air out,” said Hashim Benford, an organizer with the Miami Workers Center.

Najee Coverson, a project manager with the Carlisle Group, sat at the back of the room but did not speak during the meeting.

“Everyone deserves to be heard and we have to address their concerns,” Coverson said after being introduced by Austin.

The center called the Feb. 3 community meeting to talk about the proposed complex but participants appeared disappointed that the gathering seemed less about providing information and more about creating coalitions to fight it.

“I came here to see if they said something different, not the same old story, not for this to be decided in back rooms,” Greene said at the community meeting.  “It ain’t going down like that. How are we going to unite with someone if we don’t unite with one another first?”

Greene complained that the county was forcing his business out by refusing to maintain the county-owned building in which his business is located and not repairing a leaky roof.

The city of Miami in September deemed the building unsafe.

Repairing the building, according to county documents, is “not a wise investment” because of the pending project.

Jessica De Leon can be reached at jdele002@fiu.edu.