Revisions set Parrot in motion
By Paola Iuspa
Parrot Jungle's six-year-old plan to move to Watson Island is moving forward with Miami's approval of project revisions completing the permit process and allowing construction of the $46 million theme park to begin.
When it relocates in 2003, the now-89-year-old tourist attraction will feature the addition of a 15,000-square-foot banquet hall with a downtown view and meeting rooms. The 1,000-seat dining hall, equipped for cooking and serving, will be able to divide into six portions and be available for conventions and for the public to rent for private occasions.
"We have been interested in having a banquet facility for many years," said Eric Eimstad, Parrot Jungle spokesman. "It will be a great revenue source for the park."
For park owners Bern and Mary Levine, a dining hall with a terrace for day and night events is a dream come true, Mr. Eimstad said.
"About 10 years ago, Mr. Levine tried to add education and banquet facilities to the current location," Mr. Eimstad said, "but the idea found some resistance from neighbors."
The proposal went before the county commission twice, but never passed.
The park currently sits on a 14-acre piece of land in Pinecrest. Laws prohibiting Parrot Jungle from holding night events prompted park officials' to find the 16.8-acre site they will rent on the northeastern side of the island, said Arleen Weintraub, of the city's Department of Real Estate & Economic Development.
Ms. Weintraub said the plan's latest changes called for an amendment to a major use permit issued in 1998. The zoning process included review by four agencies before plans could be presented and on Nov. 16 given final approval by the city.
"About 70% of the park will remain open space," she said. Ms. Weintraub said the 45-year lease, signed in 1997, gives Parrot Jungle's owners an option for an additional 50-year term.
During the first two years and as the park is under construction the city will charge $200,000 in rent. In years three and four of the contract, Parrot Jungle will pay $300,000 and after that $400,000 a year or 5% of gross revenues up to gross sales of $20 million and 6% of gross revenues of sales in excess of $20 million, Ms. Weintraub said.
"It is a public-private partnership," she said. "We share revenues. Better they do with their sales, better the city does with the rent."