In early May, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the County Commission delayed the certification of 11 affordable-housing developers because one of the firms, Carlisle Development Group, is under investigation by a federal grand jury. Citing a Miami Herald report, Gimenez's administration put on the brakes because the feds suspect Carlisle defrauded the government of tax subsidies used to build low-income rental apartment projects in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Two months later, now that the media glare has worn off, Carlisle is apparently back in the county's good graces.
On Tuesday, county commissioners, based on Gimenez's recommendation, approved a deal for Carlisle to redevelop a county-owned public housing complex at 1146 NW Seventh Ct. The project is in Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson's district. Edmonson, who received dozens of bundle campaign contributions from Carlisle entities for her reelection last year, is the firm's biggest supporter.
According to county documents, Carlisle is set to receive $2.5 million in tax credits that it is using as collateral to obtain a $1.2 million construction loan from Bank of America. The renovation and construction of new units are going to cost an estimated $2.4 million.
The problem, however, is that the feds issued subpoenas to Carlisle CEO Matthew S. Greer, retired CEO and founder Lloyd J. Boggio, and general contractor Michael K. Runyan of BJ&K Construction Services, as part of an ongoing probe into whether the three men inflated construction costs on projects to maximize their profits, according to the Herald. Company attorney Jeff Marcus told the daily that Carlisle has nothing to hide and is cooperating with the investigation.
In a memo to county commissioners, Deputy Mayor Russell Benford urged them to approve the lease agreement with Carlisle because delaying a vote could jeopardize the firm's private financing.
"It is imperative that the county move forward with this item given the time-sensitivity of the low income housing tax credit funding schedule," Benford wrote. "Without these tax credits the project is not viable."
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.