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MIAMI-Scores of property owners along a 5.5-mile stretch of the Miami River will have a stake in the outcome of a proposed urban infill and redevelopment plan.

Those property owners soon will get the chance to voice their opinions on the future of growth along the river as part of an urban infill and redevelopment study that the Miami River Commission could to award today to Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc., a Chesapeake, VA.-based engineering and environmental consulting firm.

Real estate and development interests are awaiting the outcome of the $155,000 study, since a recent commission survey already estimates that $400 million in commercial projects are now either planned or proposed along this mostly industrial waterway that flows into Biscayne Bay.

The proposed study dovetails into a planned five-year, $80 million dredging project to restore the main channel of the river to its original depth and to abate years of industrial environmental contamination.

Commission officials acknowledge Kimley-Horn is a leading candidate to do the study because the firm recently completed a strategic plan for the Miami-Dade County Empower Trust. The public-private economic development group has a large stake in the outcome of the study since the river corridor falls within the group’s targeted redevelopment boundaries.

“Having gone through the strategic plan, (Kimley-Horn) is well versed in the goals of the urban infill and redevelopment plan,” Brett Bibeau, river commission assistant director, tells GlobeSt.com. “They also have the recommendation of the (commission’s) urban infill subcommittee.”

Authorized by the state Legislature in 1998, the commission anticipates it will take the approved planner from eight to 10 months to complete the infill study. The study is a critical precursor to accessing public dollars for use in improving the infrastructure along the river.

“Once the plan is written and adopted by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County they will be eligible for tax-increment and revenue-bond financing,” Bibeau says. “Tax increment financing, for example, was the instrument in the economic rejuvenation of the South Beach community in Miami Beach. They used the TIF district, and it was very successful.”

Because the study relies largely on state tax dollars, the Florida Department of Community Affairs requires the project planner to conduct at least 10 publicly noticed workshops.

Those workshops will include specific discussions on economic development, job creation, housing, transportation, crime prevention, neighborhood revitalization and possible land-use incentives.

“We’ll discuss problems in the neighborhoods and possible improvements,” Bibeau says. “We also are willing to go into matters beyond what is required.”

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