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Allapattah’s ‘Authentic Bario’ Feel Makes Way For Increased Development

When she came from Boston in the late 90s to study at the University of Miami, Mileyka Burgos-Flores quickly got homesick. She missed the food and flavor of her Dominican family and she was desperate for a Dominican hair salon. The cafeteria workers she’d befriended at school had the answer: we’ll take you to el barrio, they told her.

That’s how Burgos-Flores, executive director of the Allapattah Collaborative, got to know the neighborhood built up by Black Miamians and immigrants from the Caribbean and Central America. She soon picked up on Allapattah’s distinctive features. The breezy porches where neighbors actually talked to each other across the fence. The cosmopolitan bodegas and the street vendors residents knew by name. And of course, local watering holes like Club Típico Domínicano, the 1980s restaurant that shimmies into a nightclub with live music on the weekends.

“It’s a very warm and welcoming neighborhood,” said Burgos-Flores, whose work entails preserving the neighborhood and helping its small businesses thrive. “People don’t just go into local businesses to get their hair done, or to eat or to do their taxes. They go to hang out; they know each other and they keep an eye out for each other.”

That kind of pride among local residents is what drew art collector Mera Rubell to the area in 2019. Along with her husband Don and son Jason, the family converted a warehouse complex that previously housed a wholesaler of rice, beans and other food items into the Rubell Museum, previously located in Wynwood. The site sits cradled by the metroline and railroad tracks.

“This was a new frontier,” Rubell said. “Our dream was to create a kind of concentrated destination for culture. What’s nice is we’re not displacing anybody. These were old buildings that can no longer accommodate the heavy warehouse use it needs.”

The museum is just one of a collection of art spaces in the area, which runs from State Road 112 south to the Miami River and west from Interstate 95 to Northwest 27th Avenue. Jorge Pérez’s El Espacio 23 has also called industrial Allapattah home for the last two years. The newest addition to the art scene, Superblue, across the street from the Rubell, turned a warehouse into an immersive art space in May. The private museums are neighbors with a massive wholesale grocer; across the street, an open-air fruit market sells tropical fruit juices, coconut water and varieties of mangoes and bananas that swing from an awning.

Other recent additions have drawn people to the neighborhood through their bellies. Even on a weekday at lunch it can be hard to snag a parking spot at Hometown Barbecue, a New York transplant whose Brooklyn location is considered one of the country’s best barbecue spots.

It’s all quickly snowballing to turn Allapattah into Miami’s newest “it” spot. Burgos-Flores’ friends in the neighborhood share sightings of limousines ferrying partygoers to underground nightlife in the area. The charm that caught her eye two decades ago is still present; Allapattah remains a place where the word “authentic” still rings true. But there’s no denying things are changing.

New rentals are popping up and just as quickly evaporating due to demand from those who want to be close to the Miami Health District.

The latest is 14-story No. 17 Residences, on Northwest 17th Avenue. Renters — primarily medical and graduate students and health district employees quickly snapped up apartments, according to Lisette Calderon, CEO of developer Neology Life Development Group. Apartments start at $1,300 per month for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom layout.

“What I see that is exciting is the neighborhood being reimagined,” Calderon said.

Housing-wise, four other projects are in the pipeline.

The highest profile project on the books is a collection of eight buildings — many rising on stilts — designed by Danish star architect Bjarke Ingles for developer Robert Wennett. The project, at Northwest 12th Avenue, called Miami Produce Centerwill include residential units, hotel, office, retail space and a trade school on nine acres formerly home to a produce market. Permits have not yet been drawn, and the timetable is not yet set, said Javier Aviñó, Wennett’s representative for the project and Bilzin Sumberg partner.

Already underway is a senior affordable housing community at 1396 NW 36th St. The 13-story Mosaico should open by January 2022, said Jake Morrow, a principal at developer Interurban.

Along with No. 17 Residences, Neology is planning another 14-story rental nearby at 1625 NW 20th St., dubbed Allapattah 16.

Also in permitting is a third 14-story rental building, Allapattah 14, at 1470 NW 36th St.

For Burgos-Flores, whose work entails helping local mom and pops thrive, taking the foot off the accelerator just a bit seems wise.

“We love all this development that could potentially happen in the area, but we want it to be inclusive and equitable,” she said.

Small businesses she helps in the neighborhood are frequently priced out by rising rents, she said. The average resident is unlikely to be able to afford the luxury units coming up in the area. The median household income in the 33127 zip code is $34,510, according to the county demographic data from this year. Around 31% of the residents live below the poverty line. Displacing a community of people – many of whom first arrived via displacement after refugee crises in their home countries – would shred the neighborhood’s identity, Burgos-Flores said.

“People who live here want to stay,” she said. “And if they go, they want to go because they want to, not because they’re pushed out. They want to have the opportunity to stay and the opportunity to own here.”

 

Source:  Miami Herald

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$58M Affordable Housing Development For Seniors Underway In Trendy Allapattah

Seniors seeking affordable housing near art, barbecue and the Health District can soon look to Miami’s up-and-coming Allapattah neighborhood.

The Downtown Miami-based Interurban, a branch of Integra Investments, and the Sunrise-headquarterd property management company Elderly Housing Development & Operations Corporation, or EHDOC, are developing Mosaico, an affordable housing community for seniors.

The 13-story, 290,000-square-foot building will have 271 units, 92 studios and 179 one-bedroom, one-bath units. Amenities include a gym, computer lab, library, laundry room, and rooftop garden.

Mosaico will sit on 1.2 acres at 1396 NW 36th St., two blocks from the Allapattah Metrorail Station north of the University of Miami School of Medicine, Jackson Health and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute — and a short walk to the Rubell Museum, the soon-to-open Superblue art space and Hometown Barbecue in the emerging Allapattah neighborhood. Construction began in September and is expected for completion by late 2021.

“Miami is one of the most significantly rent-burdened markets in the country,” said Jake Morrow, head of Integra Investments’ Interurban. “The pandemic has exacerbated the dire need for affordable housing, especially for the area’s elderly population whose income far too often consists of only Social Security income.

“To serve the community’s needs, Interurban is committed to providing high-quality housing at affordable rents,” he said. “The pandemic has heightened the need for affordable housing. I think that we can see upward pressure on market rents due to an influx of residents from northern cities.”

EHDOC did not immediately respond.

The firms are using low income housing taxing credits syndicated by Boston Capital and tax-exempt bond construction financing from the Housing Financing Authority of Miami-Dade County, which are underwritten and administered by R4 Capital, for the $58 million project.

Interurban and EHDOC hired the architect firm C.C. Hodgson Architectural Group to design the project.

The firms expect to rent the 450-square-foot studios to single seniors and 580-square-foot one-bedroom units to couples. All units are reserved for households with average incomes at or below 60% of the area median income, which is $59,100. In other words, prospective residents cannot earn more than $38,400 per year to qualify.

Residents would spend 30% of their income on rent and would need a Section 8 voucher, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Seniors interested in living in Mosaico must first register on the Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development general waiting list at miamidade.gov for affordable housing in Miami.

Integra, founded in 2009, launched Interurban in 2017. In recent years it has focused on mixed-use, market-rate projects; Mosaico and Las Brisas Trace, in Brownsville, near Liberty City, are its first affordable housing developments.

EHDOC operates 55 senior living communities nationwide, including in Florida, Illinois, California, and Ohio.

Mosaico and Las Brisas are among the growing affordable options for local seniors, often strapped by the region’s notoriously high housing costs. Earlier this year, Related Urban announced Lincoln Gardens, a Brownsville project due to open in 2022; and expansion of affordable project Brisas del Este, also in Allapattah at NW 18th Avenue and NW 29th Street, due for completion in 2022. Earlier this year, Pinnacle Housing Group opened Caribbean Village in Richmond Heights in southern Dade and Carrfour Supportive Housing opened a complex for LGBQT seniors in Wilton Manors.

 

Source:  Miami Herald

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