MIAMI-A joint venture led by Related Group of Florida is negotiating a deal with county officials that would substantially increase the value of an existing contract to build affordable housing adjacent to the Santa Clara rail station along the county’s elevated, rapid-transit system.

The Miami-Dade County Commission has authorized the Miami-Dade Housing Agency to negotiate a new development contract with the affiliate of Miami-based Related Companies of Florida Inc. to construct a new headquarters site near the Metrorail passenger station at 2050 W. 12th Ave.

Since the commission just authorized negotiations, housing agency officials say they could not comment about the scope or the potential cost of the office project.

“Miami-Dade Housing Agency is moving forward with negotiations for a joint-development project near the Santa Clara Metrorail station,” Rene Rodriguez, housing agency director, responds in a prepared statement to a request from for comment. “We view this project as an opportunity to consolidate administrative and support functions of the department that will improve overall operations.”

County records show the agency’s primary administrative and support units, for instance, now lease office space at two noncontiguous sites at an annual cost of about $1 million. Details on the terms of those leases were not immediately available.

“Three direct service functions (affordable housing, private rental housing, and applicant and leasing center) are also in three separate buildings in two locations,” according to a memorandum County Manger Steve Shiver recently distributed to the county commission. “A new office building at the Santa Clara Metrorail station site would enable (the agency) to consolidate these functions, improve internal operating efficiency, provide more parking for customers and enable customers to use Metrorail as a transportation alternative.”

The new contract negotiations follow the agency’s decision last year to award a 90-year lease on county-owned land near the Metrorail station to the Related Group and its joint-venture partner Santa Clara Apartments Ltd.

Under terms of that contact, Related Group and Santa Clara proposed development of 208 affordable housing units at a cost of about $17.2 million. An affiliate of the partnership, Miami-based Carlisle Group Inc., is requesting $1.5 million in state bond-backed financing through the Florida Housing Finance Corp.

The joint venture partnership builds on the strength of what Hispanic Business magazine ranks as one of the top 10 Hispanic-owned companies in the United States. Employing around 200 workers, Related Group produced 1999 revenue of about $300 million.

State records list the general partners of Santa Clara Apartments as TCG Santa Clara Inc., an affiliate of Carlisle Group; TRG Santa Clara Inc., an affiliate of Related Group; Miami Lakes-based United Santa Clara Inc.; and Miami-based Strategic Santa Clara Inc.

Officials at Related Companies did not respond to a request from for comment.

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