Neighborhood Transformation
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Daily Business Review - April 22, 2014

All Aboard! Entrepreneur Buys 10 Lots In Miami's Overtown

A prominent Miami Beach entrepreneur has acquired more than an acre in Miami's Overtown neighborhood, scooping up vacant lots a few blocks north of the future All Aboard Florida passenger rail station.

The transaction covers land in a blighted market that has seen little sales activity over the past decade. Lion Folk Life Village LLC, a company linked to entrepreneur Michael Simkins of Miami Beach-based Lion Associates, paid $3.64 million for 10 noncontiguous lots, Miami-Dade County property records show. Nine of the lots are vacant, and a five-unit apartment building is on the other.

Lion Folk paid $58 per square foot for the combined 63,130 square feet of land on four blocks southwest of Northwest 11th Street and Second Avenue.

The property is part of Miami's historically black neighborhood with the Florida East Coast Railway tracks to the north and an I-95 ramp to the west. It's one of the most desolate spots in Miami's urban core and has been targeted for redevelopment several times.

It's currently a collection mostly of overgrown lots with a city housing project as the neighborhood highlight. Much of the area, including lots abutting those purchased by Lion Folk, are owned by the city or its Southeast Overtown-Park West Community Redevelopment Agency.

The sale to Lion Folk comes from a not-for-profit landowner that scooped up the properties in the last decade in a bid to push forward community improvement initiatives. The Collins Center, a Miami-based public policy think tank that shuttered in 2013, amassed the land holdings from 2002 to 2011. The nonprofit put together various programs to improve the area, including a string of community gardens on the property.

While there has been little sales activity over the past 10 years, the price on the lots scooped up by Lion Folk is far higher than recent transactions in the area. A 2012 sale of 9,627 square feet on three lots next to the Lion Folk purchase was negotiated for about $30 per square foot.

Simkins, Lion Folk's manager, was out of the office Tuesday and did not return a request for comment by deadline.