The Miami Riverfront is an urban area in Downtown Miami. It’s situated on the north bank of the Miami River and serves as a centralized business district. The complex comprises three primary skyscrapers: The Ivy, the Mint and the Wind. There was supposed to be fourth and final phase to development to begin in 2006, but that never transpired due to economic circumstances. Now, more than a decade later, the city of Miami is seeking to build up the area and revitalize what currently exists through a multimillion-dollar riverfront revitalization deal.
Not Set in Stone Yet
Although the proposal is far along and has even overcome some concerns over conflicts of interest, nothing is set in stone yet. Commissioners still have to come to an agreement, and they need to do that before it can put on a ballot for November. The special counsel still has to select an attorney the commissioners will have to accept, and there remains some renegotiating over a deal that favors the builder more than it does the city.
The Land Swap
The core of the deal is sound, and the intent is to allow both the city and the builder to benefit. Miami would get the new, larger administrative building and parking garage that it desperately needs. The city would also get to remain in the current building until 2020 when the new construction is completed. Adler Group, the property developer, would also pay the city $335 million over a 90-year period, which amounts to a present-day value of about $70 million. The Adler Group would then use the leased property to build a mixed-use area called the Nexus Riverside Central.
Ensuring a Fair Deal
One problem that persists is that this is supposed to be an equitable deal, and yet, there’s approximately a $50 million gap between what the city would pay for new construction and what the Adler Group would pay to lease the land. People with knowledge of the negotiations are bullish, however, because negotiators were able to cut deeply into the gap in just a day or two. Details remain, but those should be fairly easy to agree upon in the time left.
The riverfront revival has people and businesses in the area excited. In fact, there are already initial agreements in place to add both a major hotel and a new convention center. The Adler Group will expand and enhance the public riverwalk as well as renovate and reopen Fort Dallas Park. There are also many small businesses that stand to benefit and plenty of room for new ones.
A Referendum Looms
It’s important to note that Florida law requires any long-term waterfront lease to be put to voter referendum. If an agreement is reached, it will go on the November ballot and require a majority to pass. At that point, the plan would go into effect almost immediately. When it comes to a referendum, anything can happen, but it is hard to imagine this deal failing based on the current agreement. Taxes would not need to go up, there’d be new public facilities and many businesses would benefit.