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Stadium plan only latest of projects seeking CRA funds


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Stadium plan only latest of projects seeking CRA funds


By Eric Kalis


Miami Mayor Manny Diaz may be too late in his bid to use Community Redevelopment Agency money in the Overtown area to help build a baseball stadium downtown.


A host of proposals have been made for using the limited pot of money available for spending on projects in the Overtown area.


The agency has three separate taxing districts ? Overtown, Omni and Midtown. An estimation last year of what the agency's total available revenue would be if Miami-Dade County officials extended the agency until 2027 was about $340 million.


James Villacorta, executive director of the agency, said only $128 million from that pool could be spent in the next 20 years in the Overtown area, which the mayor wants to expand to include the 9 acres next to the Stephen P. Clark Center targeted for a stadium. Of that, 40% could be used for housing, 50% for infrastructure and 10% for historic preservation, Mr. Villacorta said.


"We hired a firm to do conservative projections of what would be available by 2027," Mr. Villacorta said. "There would be about $128 million for Overtown using the current boundaries. The soonest the bonds could be issued is 2010."


Mayor Diaz is in Washington this week for a national conference and was unavailable for comment.


The redevelopment agency receives tax-increment funding from taxable values above property valuations that existed when the agency was created. The Overtown revenue could be gobbled up quickly once the agency finishes prioritizing a list of proposed projects totaling more than $750 million stemming from a series of public workshops last year, Mr. Villacorta said.


"People submitted perfunctory proposals at the workshops," Mr. Villacorta said. "When including major projects [that could incorporate agency funds] like Museum Park and the Port of Miami tunnel, more than $1 billion was proposed. We need to meet with some developers, and as that progresses, the proposals could be flushed out."


Mr. Diaz has not discussed the stadium idea with agency officials, Mr. Villacorta said. To expand the Overtown district to include the proposed stadium site, as the mayor suggested, the city would have to hire a consultant to conduct a necessity study of the area and the agency board, made up of city commissioners, must approve the move before it is presented to the county, he said.


The mayor reportedly has said he would like to have a deal in the works when the Florida Legislature convenes in March. A necessity study and vote on expansion could be expedited by calling a special commission meeting, Mr. Villacorta said.


"When the Midtown CRA was created, it was done on a fast track," Mr. Villacorta said. "If there is a will, there is a way."

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