Miami-Dade commissioners unanimously approve Liberty Square redevelopment

MIAMI (WSVN) - The Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously approved the Liberty Square Redevelopment Project, Wednesday.

The 13-0 vote came just after 4 p.m., at the Stephen P. Clark Center. Earlier that day more than a hundred residents and their supporters from Liberty Square lined up in hopes of change.

“We want our community to reflect the hard-working people, the people who want absolutely the same thing — the American Dream,” said longtime Liberty Square resident Shirley Lewis. “We definitely need a change in the neighborhood, and who better to tell you than the people that eat, sleep, work and play in the neighborhood?”

According to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the redevelopment will include an increase in public housing as well as new opportunities for homeowners. There will also be retail and public spaces.

The mayor also guaranteed jobs to locals. In a tweet, he wrote, “30% of construction jobs will go to the people of Liberty Square and 75% of permanent jobs will go to Liberty Square residents.”

With their vote, commissioners gave the green light to the Related Urban Development Group, which will construct this project, which also consists of a total of 1,500 units. The project is estimated to cost $307 million.

However, controversy has long surrounded the project, which has been in the planning stages for years. Some Liberty Square residents and local leaders have accused Gimenez of showing favoritism in the developer selection process. Some residents have said they have not had enough of a voice in the design phase of the process.

“Liberty Square needs transparency, Liberty Square needs a brighter future,” one woman said.

“I’m hoping that the mayor will do the right thing and stand by the African-American community and stop this flip-flop,” said one Liberty Square resident before the vote. “We’ve had enough of that.”

Yet, Mayor Gimenez has said in the past that they have offered full transparency. “I want to take a few moments to address some misinformation,” said Gimenez. “‘You all won’t be able to stay here.’ You’ve heard that one? Yeah, that’s false.”

Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who represents District 3, which includes Liberty Square, said she did not want to delay the project. “My role is to serve as a counter balance to the mayor by reviewing his recommendations,” she said. “I would hope this community would appreciate that stance. I am not here just to accept whatever he brings to me.”

Gimenez reiterated that the entire process was transparent.

“It was all transparent, all public record” Gimenez said. “If anyone wants to take a look at it, the records are right there.”

In addition to private and federal investments in the project, the county has agreed to put up $46 million. That money has to be paid back over the course of 15 years. An official date for the groundbreaking has not been set.

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