MIAMI – A group of mostly men in suits walked into the construction site of a public-private project in Miami on Wednesday morning. They held on to a shovel and posed for pictures in front of a “GROUNDBREAKING” sign with icons associated with the city, county, and a billionaire real estate developer.
The $158 million West Brickell development includes a public school with 10 apartments for Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees and an apartment building with units that will be up for rent — some at market rate and some with government subsidies.
The construction site of 2.82 acres is just east of Interstate 95 and west of the high-rise oceanfront buildings with luxury amenities and hotels and office towers along Brickell Avenue. The growing neighborhood is also close to restaurants, shops, and nightlife in Downtown and Little Havana.
“This location matters because it’s also five minutes from Metrorail and Metromover. Affordable housing built near reliable public transportation is even more affordable because, well you don’t need a car,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins, who represents District 5.
Miami-Dade County and its federal and state government-funded public housing agency co-own the project’s three lots: 929 and 945 SW 3 Ave., and 201 SW 10 St. The private developer is associated with Miami’s Jorge M. Pérez, an art collector, and philanthropist.
The vacant parking lot on the corner of Southwest Second Avenue and 10 Street, south of the Miami River, is home to The Gallery, a 24-story building that will have more than 450 apartments, including studios and one, two, and three-bedroom units, and also a shared parking building and a pool terrace.
The Gallery’s inventory includes units to be leased exclusively to qualifying low-income tenants, according to Albert Milo, Jr., who heads the Related Urban Development Group, a Related Group entity focused on affordable and workforce housing.
“It’s not just about housing; it’s about mixed-income housing. We have affordable housing, we have workforce housing, we have market-rate housing,” Milo said about the nationwide model with financing and tax incentives for private developers.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, defined “affordable” in 2006 as not costing more than 30% of the resident’s gross income. Miami-Dade defined “workforce” as residents whose incomes are within 60% to 140% of the area median income, most recently at $68,300.
The lots at 929 and 945 SW 3 Ave. will be the home of a public middle school for about 610 students and about 10 apartments for the school’s teachers, northwest of the Southside Preparatory Academy, an elementary school at 45 SW 13 St.
“We have no middle school here to serve parents in Brickell and downtown,” Higgins said.
The project also includes about 2,240 square feet of office space and nearly 2,340 square feet of retail space. Miami-Dade County is the landlord and the lender of the project.
Higgins sponsored a resolution adopted earlier this year to allow the county to permit RUDG, LLC, or its subsidiary, The Gallery at West Brickell, LLC, to execute a 75-year ground lease with an annual rental amount equal to 16.5% of the available net cash flow, and a one-time capitalized lease payment of $1.6 million for an estimated total of about $322.7 million.
The county considers The Gallery to be the third phase of the Joe Moretti Preservation Phase One, LLC, a neighboring existing public housing development, at 240 SW 9 St.
Related document: Miami-Dade County memorandum
Miami-Dade plan for The Gallery unit allocation (About 460)
- About 70 units for residents at or below the area median income
- About 300 units at the market rate
Shared parking garage (About 530)
- About 60 school parking spaces on the 10 and 11 floors
- One parking space per unit