New Development Coming to Overtown


As an integral hub of Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, the Mary Elizabeth Hotel on NW 2nd Avenue was known for welcoming many important and prominent members of the African-American community.

Built in 1921 by Dr. William B. Sawyer, the hotel was operated by his entrepreneur wife, Alberta Sawyer. One of the more prominent guests of the Mary Elizabeth was W.E.B. DuBois who was a mentor to Dr. Sawyer and would often stay at the hotel on his way to and from conferences in the West Indies. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a guest at the hotel and held several press conferences there. The hotel was demolished in the 1980s after years of decline following the construction of I-95 that cut through the middle of Overtown.

Now there’s a new building development rising near where the Mary Elizabeth Hotel once stood. Soleste Grand Central is officially under construction near the site of the former hotel, and is said to be a $110 million project. Developer Estate Investments Group was just issued a $55.41 million construction loan from Bank OZK, with another $18 million mezzanine loan from Nationwide Insurance.

The deal marks one of the first construction loans given to an Opportunity Zone project in South Florida.The federal program gives tax incentives to developers and investors who invest in distressed areas throughout the country. Many developers have expressed interest in the program, but few have actually started breaking ground and developing these properties.

A total of 360 apartments are planned in an 18-story tower. A garage with 438 parking spaces and ground floor retail space will also be built. Of the apartments, 40 will be rent control units, with a split between affordable, workforce, and low-income housing, Monthly rents at Soleste Grand Central will be about $1,950 for a one-bedroom apartment, far surpassing what many Overtown residents can afford on a median household income averaging between $20,895-$25,992.

-Ursa Gil

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