MIAMI – It's been more than 80 years since the doors opened in Miami's Liberty Square community, and local leaders hope its new transformation is a big step in a new direction for the area.
"We're building a great, world-class city right now, right before your eyes," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
The community got a first look Monday at the completed the first phase of the new Liberty Square redevelopment -- the first major overhaul of the housing community that opened 82 years ago.
"FDR (President Franklin D. Roosevelt) was the president at the time. It's before World War II. This makes this site one of the oldest public housing developments in the southeastern United States," Gimenez said.
The new development will eventually provide 1,455 new units -- more than double the previous number.
"This overall redevelopment plan has adeptly combined public housing units with affordable and workforce housing units," Gimenez said. "It also includes market-rate rental apartments along with units that are available to purchase for home ownership."
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was on hand to help celebrate Monday at the ribbon-cutting.
He praised the project's managers for successfully completing construction without displacing anyone who was living in one of the now demolished units.
"So many people are afraid that people are just going to be kicked out and gentrification is going to occur and that people will have no place to live. You all have presented an ideal model of how it can be done the right way," Carson said.
Only one or two people have already moved in to the new units, but anyone who was living in the public housing before the demolition is now able to come back to one of the new units.
As for a timeline of when the rest of the project will be finished, county officials said they're hoping to at least begin construction on the next three phases by the end of 2019.