OLCDC Helps Historic Neighborhood Recapture its Glory

Shovels held by key stakeholders involved in the community development project construction activity of the first apartment complex being revitalized in Opa-locka – (L to R) Marilyn Oliver Lopez, TD Bank, CFNMD Board Member; (Behind) Eli Bichachi; (L to R) Mr. & Mrs. Bichachi, ELCI Construction, Contractor (assigned for the rehabilitation of this building); Opa-locka Commissioner Gail Miller; Miami-Dade County District 1 Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan; City of Opa-locka Mayor Myra L. Taylor;  Willie Logan, President/CEO, OLCDC; City of Opa-locka Vice Mayor Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson;  Leo Toca, Wells Fargo, Vice President, Sr. Community Development Officer; Ed Brow, OLCDC Board Member; Eugene Simmons- Citibank.

“This is not about the rehabilitation of an apartment complex, this is about the redevelopment of a neighborhood and the building of a community,” avowed Willie Logan, Founder and President of the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC), on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 11:00 a.m., during a historic groundbreaking ceremony at 15050 Duval Street, Opa-locka, FL 33054, where Logan together with Miami-Dade County District 1 Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan, City of Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor, the City Commission, and a list of some of the brightest names in urban planning united, with hard hats and golden shovels, to initiate a new beginning for a community once infamously nicknamed “The Triangle.”

For years, “The Triangle,” in the City of Opa-locka, has had a renowned reputation for being one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods. At the groundbreaking, citizens learned details about a transformation which the area is about to undergo, that will convert the neighborhood into one of the most aesthetically pleasing and potentially promising communities in South Florida, beginning with a rediscovered name, “Magnolia North,” and a vital investment by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

OLCDC is utilizing a portion of a $20 million HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP 2) grant to transform the old “Triangle” into the new “Magnolia North;” a safe and desirable place to live and work.  The community development planning process, initiated last year, yielded a bold plan for the neighborhood and the first major project is about to begin, marked by the groundbreaking ceremony to showcase the redevelopment of the first apartment complex under the HUD NSP 2 grant.  The neighborhood revitalization project presents great opportunity for South Florida with four buildings being revitalized in Opa-locka, over the next 12 months.

OLCDC develops a holistic vision for neighborhood transformation, and the Magnolia North transformation will derive from rebuilt and repaired houses, beautiful new apartment buildings, streets, landscaping, parks and playgrounds for children, along with seven areas that have been identified to create public art, which celebrates Opa-locka’s history and people. The ambitious undertaking will literally change the face of Opa-locka for generations, and serve as a community development model for other US cities, in upcoming years, as they tackle similar challenges.  Once completed, this “community of choice” will consist of green (environmentally friendly) buildings and free access to the internet for every resident.  OLCDC board members believe that the physical changes will create new spirit within the Magnolia North community.

“We are burning ‘the Triangle’ today,” exclaimed Commissioner Jordan!  She suggested that the new blue print for Magnolia North will change the Horizon of the Community. Jordan, who “recaptured” an additional $2.5 million last year to assist OLCDC in the project, added, “You have what you have today, because NO ONE was selfish!”  Admitting that this will have a long lasting, permanent effect on the community, she humbly asserted, “I am proud to be a part of the revitalization, the rejuvenation and the recreation of ‘Magnolia North!’”

Additional major funders teaming with OLCDC in this effort include: Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, BB&T, AT&T, Wells Fargo, the Miami-Dade NSPII Consortium, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Among the community leaders, program participants and others attending the groundbreaking were, Vice Mayor Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson, Commissioner Rose Tydus, Commissioner Gail Miller, Evangelist Mary Alice Brown, Armando Fana, US Department of Housing and Urban Development Field Office Director; Jessie Williams, Chairperson OLCDC Housing Committee; OLCDC Board member and Former Commissioner Ollie Kelley; Representatives from Jamii Builders; Community Fund of North Miami-Dade; Affordable Home Realty; along with OLCDC Board of Directors and members. Music was performed by saxophonist Brian Wesolowski.

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