Most people probably wouldn't consider downtown Miami's Omni neighborhood an especially dangerous place. Overlooking Biscayne Bay, the area is home to sleek condominium skyscrapers, a $470 million performing-arts center and the historic Miami Women's Club.

Yet when Publix Super Markets opened a store there last year, the Lakeland-based company snagged $79,000 in state tax breaks for creating jobs in an "urban high-crime area."

It's not the only example of a business in an appealing area dipping into the high-crime incentive pool — a practice attracting the scrutiny of state legislators. EverBank Financial Corp. just applied for $690,000 in high-crime tax credits after moving several hundred jobs from suburban locations in Duval County to a 32-story office tower in downtown Jacksonville. Fun Spot, the Orlando amusement-park owner, recently got $13,000 through the program for expanding its park in the International Drive tourist corridor.

An even bigger payday could be on the horizon for Universal Orlando, the giant theme-park resort that draws millions of tourists from around the world and yet is considered under state law to be in a high-crime spot. Universal will add hundreds — possibly thousands — of jobs in 2014 after it opens a fourth hotel and a second Harry Potter-themed land early next year.

The resort and its hotel partners could get about $900,000 in tax breaks for the hotel alone, based on the 600 jobs Universal expects the project to create.
Pictures: Orlando celebrities

Universal won't say whether it intends to pursue more high-crime tax breaks, but history suggests it will. The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this year that Universal and its hotel affiliate have already received more than $8 million from the program through the years, including awards soon after the opening of the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter and its first three hotels. Universal would not comment.

But now some state lawmakers want changes.

More here.