Otis Pitts Jr. Owes Miami-Dade County $10 Million On Failed Project

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Otis Pitts Jr.
A prominent African-American builder just got a sweet bailout from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the county commission. On March 20, commissioners quietly approved Gimenez's request to pay off $400,000 that Otis Pitts Jr. owes in property taxes on a complex he owns on NW 62nd Street at Seventh Avenue.

The payout is a new low point for a developer who once won a prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant for his plans to transform Liberty City but who now owes the county another $10 million for a loan and could soon lose the property.

Gimenez's move also sticks in the craw of other nearby business owners who say they get no such love from county hall.

"The county can't find the money to fix this property that they own," seethes Tyrone Greene, whose long-running Greene Dream Shoe Repair's county-owned building across the street is crumbling and mold-infested. "But they can find the funds to pay taxes on Mr. Pitts's building."

Neither Pitts nor his lobbyist, Al Dotson, returned calls for comment. A memo to county commissioners, though, says that paying the taxes on the property will make sure Miami-Dade didn't lose it in a tax deed auction sale.

Either way, the move exposes how Pitts's once-lauded project, Edison Marketplace, has failed to create more than 200 promised jobs as part of his plans to revitalize the struggling neighborhood. Pitts, a former Miami cop, was the recipient of a prestigious MacArthur grant in 1990 for his redevelopment projects in Liberty City.

Seven years ago, through his company, Peninsula Edison Plaza, he secured more than $13 million in public funds, including a $7.2-million, county-administered loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He used the money to build the retail complex, which is anchored by a Presidente Supermarket and counts a GameStop, a Foot Locker, a Family Dollar, and a CAC Medical Centers office as tenants.

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Aerial view of Edison Marketplace.
But Pitts has been stiffing the county for two years, according to a default letter from Deputy Mayor Russell Benford. Peninsula has not made a single monthly mortgage payment of $52,891 since February 2010. He also skipped out on his property tax bills, forcing the county to cover the debt.

Benford informed Pitts he has until May 6 to pay the $10 million; otherwise, the county will foreclose and take over management of Edison Marketplace.

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1 comments
gradymuhammad
gradymuhammad

Grady Muhammad

HELL HAS ANYBODY READ @ THE FAILED BUSINESS CALLED PARROT JUNGLE OR JUNGLE ISLAND(PJ) ON WATSON ISLAND, SITTING ON PRIME CITY OF MIAMI OWNED WATERFRONT LAND. THEY DON'T HAVE 2 PAY RENT FOR 4 YEARS. THE COUNTY GAVE THEM $800,000 IN ABATMENTS, NO PAYMENT OF TAXES, REFUND ON SALES TAXES, EQUIPMENT. HE IS THE BIGGIE.  THE TAXPAPERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HAS PAID SINCE USHUD SINCE PJ STOP  PAYING ON ITS LOAN IN 2004. HOW MUCH $17,431,000. SEVENTEEN MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. BUT I DON'T HEAR NO ONE COMPLAINING.

WHEN THE ANCHOR TENANT (GEORGE & JERRY'S SUPERMARKET) WENT BELLLY UP N 2009. WHILE AT THE SAME TIME MIAMI-DADE COUNTY & THE CITY OF MIAMI WERE GIVING THE MARLINS THE STORE FOR NOTHING. 70 JOBS WERE LOST.  WHERE WAS THE CITY & COUNTY 2 ASSIST, MR. PITTS DEFAULTING ON HIS LOAN. NO WERE TO B FOUND. SECTION 108 LOANS R INTENDEDTO HELP DEVELOPERS LIKE MR. PITTS WHO BUILD N THE INNER CITY, NOT RICH GUYS LIKE  MR. LEVINE WHO BUILDS ON PIME REALESTATE OWNED BY THE CITY OF MIAMI. WHAT HYPROCRITES    MR. PITTS BUILT EDISON PLAZA FROM THE GROUNG UP. HE USED THE SAME SECTION 108 LOAN WE GAVE TO PARROT JUNGLE. BUT LETS SEE THE REAL DIFFERENCE. THERE WAS NO SLUM & BLIGHT ON WATSON ISLAND. FOR IT 2 QUALIFY THAT WAY PEOPLE WOULD HAVE HAD TO LIVE THERE. NO 1 DID OR DOES NOW? HOW DID IT QUALIFY 4 THIS LOAN? NOW IS THERE SLUM & BLIGHT N LIBERTY CITY? I THNIK SO. IS IT A VERY POOR PLACE WITH NO MAJOR RETAILERS IN THE COMMUNITY? YES. DID HE INVEST IN A COMMUNITY, WHERE WHITE & OTHERS ARE AFRAID TO COME 2 VISIT OR INVEST IN? YES.WAS HE MAKING MONEY B 4 HE CAME BACK? HELL YES, HE WAS WORKING FOR MR. ARMANDO CODINA. DID HE NEED 2 COME BACK? NO.  HERE IS A BLACK WHO IS FROM THIS COMMUNITY GREW UP HERE, RAISED HIS CHILDREN & GRANDS HERE. DID HE BUILD THE FIRST AFFORDABLE HOUSING N LIBERTY CITY N OVERT 20 YEARS? YES. DID HE GET RICH OFF IT? NO. ARE THOSE UNITS STILL AFFORDABLE, IS THAT COMPLEX A CRACK HOUSUE OR NEW PUBLIC HOUSING?  HEAVENS NO! YOU CAN GO BY N SEE 4 YOUR SELF. 5800 NW 7TH AVE. EDSION GARDENS & TERRACES.

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