An urban farm in the Miami area could turn around the nation’s housing market, but the land grab would be in direct conflict with the city’s own goals to turn the city into a new, affordable city.
The city’s ambitious plan to turn Miami into a land-rich community is part of an effort to bring affordable housing and job opportunities to the impoverished island nation, and it could potentially open up vast tracts of Miami’s downtown.
But there are some legal, financial and political obstacles to the land-grazing project, according to the Associated Press.
The land could end up being worth hundreds of millions of dollars and the city would lose its tax breaks and subsidies if the project goes ahead.
The plan calls for building a massive, two-lane highway connecting Miami Beach and the southern tip of Florida to form the first segment of the “Lucky Land” project.
It would be built on a 4,000-acre parcel that the city bought in 2002.
The Miami Herald reported that the Miami-Dade County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $200 million loan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the highway.
The city and state are expected to apply for a federal loan to cover the cost.
The highway, which will include high-speed rail, would connect Miami with Orlando, Florida, and the University of Miami.
The cost to build it could run between $250 million and $300 million.
The AP found that the land was owned by the Miami city government and the state of Florida, but that Miami-dade and the county would not disclose its ownership.
The Associated Press reached out to Miami-City and the Miami City Development Corp., the company responsible for buying the land, for comment.
Miami-dose did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Landgrazers would need permits from the Miami and Florida departments of public safety, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Division of Urban Development.
They could also apply for easements to use the land for parking.
City officials said in a statement Tuesday that the highway would be “complementary to our goal of creating more affordable housing, which is one of our highest priorities.”
But some residents, who have been struggling with high rents and housing shortages in the city, have voiced concerns that the project will only increase the already high prices of housing in Miami and that Miami’s future will be dependent on the city getting federal money.
A group of activists from Miami-based Friends of the Dump Land Coalition filed a lawsuit against the city on Tuesday to block the plan, saying the city has not followed all city procedures for the land acquisition.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, names Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the Miami Beach Police Department, Miami Beach Mayor Carlos Rodriguez, the city of Miami, the U, Florida Department and the U., Department of Transportation as defendants.
In a letter sent to the AP Tuesday, Gimenez and other city officials said they “do not have the authority to approve the land use unless we get the requisite permits, as required by the law.”
Gimenez, Rodriguez and Gimenez’s administration did not respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit.
The Landgrazer project could also threaten the city and the federal government’s goal to bring 20,000 new housing units to the country’s wealthiest and most affluent neighborhoods by 2025.
Miami Mayor Carlos Garcia, a Republican, has said the city could use the highway to house a million people.
The mayor and other officials have repeatedly called the project a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for the city.
The Miami-Gore administration has called the plan a “disaster” that will take years to build.
In its lawsuit, Friends of The Dump said Miami-Miami is “actively seeking federal assistance to help cover the costs of the project.”
It also wrote that the federal funds would not cover any of the costs associated with building the highway, including environmental cleanup, maintenance and permitting, and permitting for construction of a public plaza, pedestrian walkways and other infrastructure needed for the project.
The group said Miami’s request for federal assistance “is in direct violation of the law, as the Miami County Board is required to obtain a ‘permit for eminent domain’ from the Federal Emergency Management Agency before any city-state partnership agreement can be signed.”