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Liberty Square investigative findings released ahead of visit by HUD Secretary Carson

Sara Smith


The affordable housing arm of residential developer Related Group spent several thousand dollars currying favor among public housing residents last year en route to winning a $300 million county contract to redevelop Liberty Square, a Miami-Dade Inspector General’s investigation has found.

But despite some “perceptually unseemly” payments, a close-out memo released Tuesday says that Related Urban Development Group broke no laws, and the money that flowed into one of South Florida’s poorest communities appears to be nowhere close to what was publicly alleged.

“While these practices might warrant further scrutiny in the future, especially as more complex public private partnership arrangements gain traction and become the norm of financing public improvements where community and stakeholder input is crucial … it is recommended that this case be closed,” Special Agent Dimitri Bernadotte wrote in a March 30 memo obtained by the Miami Herald.

The report — released less than 24 hours before a planned noon visit Wednesday to Liberty Square by HUD Secretary Ben Carson, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Related Group CEO Jorge Pérez — sheds new light on the hard-fought political battle to win a contract to rebuild Miami-Dade’s oldest and perhaps most notorious public housing project.

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