DECEMBER 2, 2013


The SEOPW CRA is one of the largest, if not the largest property owner in Overtown.  Among the properties that they own are the parking lots that bracket the Lyric Theater on NW 8th Street and NW 2nd Avenue.

These two lots are better known as Miami Parking Lots 57 and 58, and are part of a deal that the CRA entered into years ago that allows the Miami Parking Authority (MPA) to manage these lots in return for a payment to the CRA.

Last March, as part of my investigation into the Robert Townsend movie deal, I had come across a mention of this deal between the CRA and the then Department Of Off Street Parking, now the Miami Parking Authority (MPA) in the 2012 SEOPW CRA Audit that I found strange:

As always, when it comes to skanky deals in the City of Miami, it all about following the money.

Lot 57 is leased by a Miami company called Safe Cruise Parking, it has 350 spaces, and those spaces go for $10.00 a day. When the lot is full, they gross $3500.00 a day. 

To be conservative, lets say that over a year the lot averages 250 cars a day, because in the time that I’ve been driving by to check on these lots this lot is never full to capacity. That comes to $2500.00 a day, $10,500 a week, $75,000 for a 30 day month, and $900,000.00 for a 365 day year. The MPA rents this lot to Safe Parking for $1000.00 a month, or$12,000.00 a year.

Lot 58 is leased to Premier Parking Ventures, a Tampa company and it has 400 spaces. They only charge $7.50 per day.

However, unlike Lot 57, this lot is always full of cars, and they actually park more than 400 cars by parking cars in the lanes between parking spaces.

But let’s be conservative and say that they park 350 cars a day there at $7.50. That comes to $2625.00 a day, $18,375.00 a week, $78,750.00 a month for a 30 day month, and $945,000.00 a year.

Up until July of this year, as the email above revealed, the MPA was charging them $3100 a month, or $37,200 a year in rent, and now the MPA is charging $5500 a month, or $66,000.00 a year.

Combined, these two lots conservatively generate $1,845,000.00 in gross income a year while paying the Miami Parking Authority a total $78,000.00 a year in rent, minus taxes.

That comes out to a total payment of less than 4% of gross revenue. 

And of that, the $38,115.00 that the SEOPW CRA supposedly collected in fiscal year 2013 - for the first time in years, mind you - represents approximately 2% of the gross revenue of these 2 lots.

2% of $1.8 million dollars!  How bullshit is that?

If a private corporation were to discover that one of their employees had entered into a deal that generated either no revenue, or less than 2% in revenue for properties that they owned that were generating almost $2 million a year in gross revenue, that person would have been fired as soon as the numbers became known. 

Not only that, but that deal would come to a screeching halt, and reputable companies would figure that some sort of underhanded dealing was probably going on because the deal was either a scam, a hustle or just outright robbery!

Over and over again the folks in Overtown get robbed of the rightful value of property being held in their name by the SEOPW CRA as a result of these kinds of underhanded schemes. The latest is the giveaway of Lots 46 & 55 for less than 25% of their appraised value. 

All of this land is public property paid for by tax increment funds generated within the boundaries of the SEOPW CRA. This land rightfully belongs to the community, and it’s management by the SEOPW CRA should reflect that.

That Art Noriega of the Miami Parking Authority would do a deal with these parking companies that gave the lots away for less than 4% of the gross revenue, is at the very least grounds for an audit of the MPA.

In a real American city it would probably also be grounds for a criminal investigation because this kind of giveaway isn’t done as a result of stupidity. You could also expect front page stories in the local news media. Imagine the headlines if this were discovered in New York, Chicago, Washington or Los Angeles.

Want to bet that after you read this here you’ll not see a mention of this in the Miami Herald, Miami New Times, the business papers or the TV stations? 

In lieu of the public scrutiny that is lacking in Miami by a pliant news media, the person with the ultimate responsibility for making sure that this kind of nasty shit doesn’t happen in Overtown is the City Commissioner for District 5, who is also the Chairman of the SEOPW CRA. 

Now that Michelle Spence-Jones has left the building, Keon Hardemon is the new City Commissioner for District 5, and the new Chairman of the SEOPW CRA.

This is now HIS problem, and this is as good a place as any to see whether the Commissioner is up to the task of taking on Art Noriega and the other vested interests who for years have considered Overtown a place ripe for plunder, or whether he’ll continue to go along with the shuck and jive bullshit that has screwed the folks of Overtown for so many years.

Welcome to the Crespogram Report, Commissioner.

It’s Miami, Bitches!



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No revenue?  How could that be?  Those parking lots have always had plenty of parked cars in them. 

I wrote Clarence Woods, the Executive Director of the SEOPW CRA for some explanation, but because I was awash in documents dealing with both the American Black Film Festival and the Townsend movie hustle, the explanation that Woods gave me went in one ear and out the other because it was just one of several sidebar issues that I stumbled on during the 3 months I spent working on that series of stories that I couldn’t fit into the series. 

I figured one day I would get back to looking at this deal, and in truth every time I drove by one of the parking lots a tiny bell would go off in my head, but I had so many other stories that kept me distracted that I never really focused on these lots until some concerned folks in Overtown contacted me because they were curious as to the volume of cars that were being parked in these lots, and who was getting the money.

It turns out that both of these lots are used to provide parking for folks going on cruises. The folks who park in Lot 57 pay $10,00 a day, while the folks that park in Lot 58 pay $7.50 a day.

Lot 58 became better known last month when dozens of car keys belonging to folks who had parked their cars in the lot before going on a cruise came back to find them scattered on the ground, or lost, prompting international news coverage that included vague accusations that the keys were dumped by disgruntled employees of Premier Parking Ventures, the company who operates the lot.

That was enough to focus my attention on these lots and so I sent several emails to the Miami Parking Authority asking three questions. Here are the answers.