HUD Awards Opa-locka a $624,479 Grant

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Southeast Regional Administrator Edward Jennings, Jr., HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Marie Head and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson on January 10, 2012, announced that OLCDC will recieve a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant to support initiatives to transform the Niles Gardens community and seek new opportunities for transit-oriented development that connects housing with jobs. Opa-Locka is one of 13 communities nationwide awarded grants to begin grassroots efforts to revitalize housing and communities.

On Monday, November 21, 2011, “The Great” City of Opa-locka received a $624,479 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The primary objective of the grant is to develop a long-term vision for the city’s revitalization, dubbed Sustainable Opa-locka 20/30.  The plan will identify specific actions that will improve local housing and spur economic investment and development. The City has partnered with the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation to implement these funds, with both organizations providing matching funds that bring the total investment close to $1 million.

Improved housing and reversing the devastating impacts of the real estate downtown, is a key priority.  Efforts are underway to reclaim and renovate foreclosed and abandoned properties and to help current residents improve their properties.  The plan will identify and seek to improve key “livability” factors, including jobs, transportation choices, housing, health indicators and open space. These efforts will improve the community for current residents and attract new residents seeking affordable housing in a strong, safe neighborhood.

The plan will also identify opportunities to spur economic development in the area, by taking advantage of local facilities.  The city boasts a large general aviation facility in the Opa-locka airport; a cluster on underutilized warehouse and industrial spaces; and 110 buildings throughout the neighborhood that feature historic Moorish revival architecture.  These three assets are being explored as anchors for a bold strategy to attract business to the city and create jobs.

“While many of our families are struggling through these tough economic times, we have an opportunity for generational change in Opa-locka,” said Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor. “This grand vision requires an equally bold plan.  This generous grant from HUD will provide us with the resources we need to see the entirety of our community, engage our citizens, and smartly target our investments to make the largest impact.”

In addition to the housing and economic development outcomes, the plan will also provide guidance on zoning code, design guidelines, a housing strategy, property acquisition and community engagement strategy. “Protecting and celebrating the unique Moorish architecture will be a critical focus of our efforts.  While we recognize our heritage, we also look forward,” added Taylor.

Another outcome includes improvements in energy efficiency and reductions in community energy use through community-scale energy strategies and green building code development.

The comprehensive Sustainable Opa-locka 20/30 plan is expected to be completed in 12 to 18 months with some elements being implemented concurrently.

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