Construction has reached the top floor on a $350 million high-rise residential, retail and office complex in Overtown that will bring 578 much-needed apartments for senior citizens and 1,100 jobs.
Block 55 at Sawyer’s Walk, which is being developed by Swerdlow Group and built by Coastal Construction Group, is situated near a major public transit hub and Interstate 95. The transit access is crucial for the development intended for seniors with lower incomes seeking affordable housing .
The 18-story building will feature a variety of merchants on the ground floor, including Target, Burlington, Ross Dress for Less, CVS, Starbucks and an Aldi supermarket. Several restaurants with outdoor seating also will be opening at the inner-city site.
The real estate development represents perhaps the biggest financial infusion in history in Overtown, an impoverished, formerly segregated Miami neighborhood that has struggled for decades to attract investment. Once a thriving African American and Bahamian cultural and commercial district that dates to the city’s founding in 1896, central Overtown was left to languish, amid an expanding downtown Miami.
“We wanted to do it for the community,” said Michael Swerdlow, managing partner of Swerdlow Group. “People deserve a decent place to live and it looks like market-rate apartments. There’s a beautiful pool deck and giant swimming pool. It’s a beautiful project.”
To qualify to live in an apartment in Block 55, residents will have to be 62 or older and can earn no more than 60% of Miami-Dade County’s area median household income of $74,700. Residents are expected to begin moving into the new apartment complex in June 2024.
Block 55 tenants will live within walking distance to the Metrorail, the Metromover, Brightline’s MiamiCentral Station and bus stops. To do the project, Swerdlow paid $18 million in 2018 to buy and develop the vacant city-owned lot at 24 NW 6th Street from the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency.
The Block 55 complex covers a full city block between Northwest Second Avenue and Interstate 95 at Sixth Street that had been vacant for years.
Construction started in January 2022, after the plan to develop 1.4 million square feet, including 180,000 square feet for stores and 120,000 square feet for offices was announced in February 2020.
From the beginning, it was obvious to developers that besides the apartments Overtown also lacked shopping options.
“When I saw this, I realized it was a retail desert,” Swerdlow told the Miami Herald in February 2020. “So I tried to do what I always do, which is affordable, middle-class retail.”