South Florida Opportunity Zones Forum
[At the forum organized by the Urban Land Institute in Miami about Opportunity Zones, Albert Dotson, Managing Partner at Bilzin Sumberg, moderated the fireside chat with HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett.]
At the forum organized by the Urban Land Institute in Miami about Opportunity Zones, Albert Dotson, Managing Partner at Bilzin Sumberg, moderated the fireside chat with HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett.

South Florida’s interest in Opportunity Zones has been palpable from day one. The Opportunity Zones incentive, created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was designed to spur economic development and job creation by encouraging long-term investments in low-income communities nationwide.

The incentive offers capital gains tax relief to investors for new investment in designated Opportunity Zones.

When the SE Florida and Caribbean chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently put together a half day forum in Miami with insightful information from proven successful practitioners, attendance went to standing room only.

HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett was a keynote speaker. Due to the large HUD presence in Opportunity Zones and the Zones’ potential to revitalize distressed communities, Cleveland-Leggett encouraged communities to take advantage of HUD’s incentives in Opportunity Zones, such as offering preference points in many of competitive grants, and guidance on how to attract qualified opportunity fund investment through the utilization of various HUD grants.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the deal of the moment, but it’s important we don’t forget the people & communities involved,” Cleveland-Leggett reminded the audience. “It will bring opportunity not only to change the landscape of the community but change the trajectory of the people of the community.”

The objective is to incentivize private investment into low-income communities to foster economic revitalization, job creation and promote sustainable economic growth, which in turn will unlock capital that will revitalize hurting cities and unleash their economic potential. Florida has 427 designated Opportunity Zones. In Florida’s 10 southern counties there are 152 Opportunity Zones.

HUD is also offering FHA incentives for property owners who invest distressed neighborhoods. This includes reduced application fees paid by property owners applying for certain multifamily mortgage insurance programs for the development or rehabilitation of apartment units located, or proposed to be located, in Opportunity Zones. In addition, FHA is designating teams of senior underwriters to review these applications to ensure the most attentive and timely processing.

The forum took place on June 5, 2019 and was hosted by Bilzin Sumberg. Some of the speakers were Tom Roth, Chair for Mission Advancement, ULI SE/Caribbean; Robert Bernstein, Vice President, The Related Companies; Dan Gilman, Partner and Head of Investment, Decennial Group; Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, Real Estate Group Leader, Bizin Sumberg; Arkadiy Green, Director of Tax Services, Berkowitz Pollack Brant; Arnaud Karsenti, Managing Principal, 13th Floor Investment; Carlos Rodríguez, COO, Driftwood Acquisitions & Development; and Michael Kovacs, Director, Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams.