Block 55 Lands $7.5 Million in Affordable Housing Funds

249 Northwest 6th Street and Michael Swerdlow (Arquitectonica, Swerdlow Group)

A mixed-use project in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, led by Michael Sverdlov, has received funding from the local government for its affordable housing.

Miami city commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved an additional $ 2.5 million grant for Block 55, after the project was granted $ 5 million the previous year.

Sverdlov informed the commissioners that Block 55, which will offer 578 apartments for low-income seniors in addition to 250,000 square meters of retail space and a parking garage, is well on the way to breaking the ground in the coming weeks.

Recently, the general contractor for Block 55 Coastal Construction applied for permission to begin foundation work on the 3.44-acre site at 249 Northwest Sixth Street in Miami. Swerdlow’s partners are SJM and Alben Duffie. The group bought the land from the Southeast Overtown / Park West Community Redevelopment Agency for $ 10 million.
“We’ll start building immediately,” said Swedlow. “We already have leases with Aldi, Target, Ross, Burlington and Five Below. If you think getting Target to Overtown would be easy, you are wrong. But they are coming. “

According to evidence provided to city commissioners, Target rents 49,306 square feet on the first floor of Block 55, which is alternatively known as Sawyer’s Landing. The big box retailer, which has received a clause in its lease that prohibits competitors with sales of more than $ 5 billion from also taking a seat in Block 55, agreed to add a 10 for the first five years -Yearly contract to pay an annual base rent of $ 1.2 million with six five-year renewal options.

Aldi, which has also signed a 10-year lease, occupies 23,723 square meters of space on the sixth level of Block 55. The supermarket chain agreed to pay $ 693,897 annually for the first five years.

Block 55 was originally supposed to offer mostly market-oriented apartments with a few units for low-income senior citizens. Last year, Sverdlov worked with city officials to create all units for low-income and very low-income seniors only.

Block 55 received a $ 25 million construction loan in September.

The project is progressing despite the loss of Coconut Grove-based developer Terra as a partner and despite a lawsuit from a competing construction company last year. Companies affiliated with developer Don Peebles sued Sverdlov, his development firm Downtown Retail Associates, and Duffie for derailing the project.

Peebles’ Overtown Gateway Partners alleged Sverdlov and Duffie sabotaged his proposal to build a mixed-use project on the grounds of Block 55 by inappropriately influencing Overtown CRA’s executive director Clarence Woods and then-town commissioner Keon Hardemon. Overtown Gateway Partners is demanding $ 175 million in damages, including $ 160 million in alleged lost profits and $ 15 million from the previously proposed deal between Sverdlov and the broken Peebles partnership.

Miami-Dade District Court Judge Michael Hanzman dismissed one of the counts in the Overtown Gateway lawsuit, but the lawsuit is pending. In a memo that was part of the city’s Block 55 agenda package, Sverdlov claimed the lawsuit’s allegations were “ridiculous.”

“Above all, the lawsuit does not pose a threat to property,” the memo says. “We have already acquired the property and the title insurance was issued without mentioning the lawsuit.”

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