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Front Page » Top Stories » Conversion Starts To Drive Omni Mall Up Hightech Lane

Conversion Starts To Drive Omni Mall Up Hightech Lane

Written by on August 3, 2000

By Candi Calkins
The future of Miami’s Bicentennial Park may be decided over the next four to six months as a city planning committee headed by Commissioner Johnny Winton prepares an analysis of development options for the waterfront property.

The Florida Marlins baseball team, a children’s museum and a museum of science are among contenders for sites in Bicentennial Park.

Mr. Winton said the Bicentennial Park committee already has met twice to develop a cost analysis and development scenarios.

Commissioners last week approved up to $200,000 for Bicentennial Park studies, tapping the city’s $4.9 million reserves to pay for committee activities and a separate analysis sought by Mayor Joe Carollo regarding the feasibility of filling in a boat slip.

Commissioner Arthur Teele said Bicentennial Park also will probably be a subject of interest for the Community Improvement Authority, an independent agency soon to be created under recently approved state legislation. The new entity’s first mandate will be building a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins downtown.

Mr. Teele recommended Richard Dunn, a past city commissioner, and Steve Kneapler, owner of Monty’s restaurant, as city commission nominees to the independent agency.

Officials said appointments by the mayor and commissioners will be made in September. The authority also will include persons appointed by the governor and county.

Mr. Carollo also took up the Bicentennial Park torch last week, begging commissioners to reclaim about 10 acres of submerged land at the park by filling in the deep water boat slip and two inlets.

City staffers said filling all submerged land at Bicentennial Park would cost about $3 million, creating 10 acres of waterfront land valued at $42.7 million, based on property values along Biscayne Boulevard.

Filling in only a portion of the slip would cost more due to the high cost of rebuilding the sea wall, said Robert Nachlinger, assistant city manager, while creating less value in terms of waterfront acreage.

Filling in the first 300 feet of the slip, he said, would require 100,000 cubic yards of fill and cost $7.2 million, creating property worth $13 million. Filling in three-quarters of the slip would require 300,000 cubic yards of fill and cost an estimated $4.8 million, Mr. Nachlinger said.

The mayor said that filling in the slip could improve access to Bicentennial Park, which is bounded to the east and south by water and to the north by I-395.

He said filling two inlets on the waterfront could make it easier to extend a waterfront promenade along the shore.

"By filling in a good portion of that slip or whatever amount this commission sees fit, what you will in essence do is open up Bicentennial to the public," Mr. Carollo said. "It is going to create a very excellent value for the city of Miami, based on the present value of the property there."

Commissioners agreed that filling in the boat slip could be one feasible option for redeveloping the park.

"The city is going to have to find creative ways to find better revenues," said Commissioner Joe Sanchez. "I think we will be forced to create land."

"I think the more land we have there, the better the development we can have there," Commissioner Willy Gort said. "I don’t have any problem in filling the whole slip."

Commissioners agreed to a proposal from Mr. Teele asking the city manager to prepare a detailed cost analysis to fill the boat slip, including information on environmental concerns of the county’s Department of Environmental Resources, federal Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corp of Engineers.

The city manager was given 120 days to report on possible timetables and configurations, including options that would preserve a view corridor of the bay for motorists on Biscayne Boulevard.

Mr. Teele said he is concerned about losing the last glimpse of the water, an issue he said affects qualify of life here, but said he understands development concerns.

"If we’re talking about making this a lot more functional," Mr. Teele said, "it makes a lot of sense."

Commissioners decided not to make a recommendation on filling in the slip, allowing the Bicentennial Park committee time to review options.

Mr. Winton said his committee plans to take up the issue, including the possible lease value of any land created.

"We really ought to give this planning process time to complete itself," he said. "We do have a very open mind about this, but I’m very committed to process."

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