72nd Street developer may be named at next city meeting
By Sherri C. Ranta
Miami Beach City Manager Jorge M. Gonzalez is expected to recommend a developer for the city's 72nd Street revitalization project on March 28.
Although The Related Group of Florida won top ranking from a city-appointed selection committee, Mr. Gonzalez said he won't commit to recommending Related until he reviews rankings and information about all three companies interested in the project.
"The way I understand it, Related was ranked No. 1 by seven of nine of the committee members. In other instances, they were ranked 2," Mr. Gonzalez said.
Although there was a "clear choice," he said, the recommendation of one of three companies will ultimately be his decision.
Cornerstone Group in conjunction with Constructa and Bermello Ajamil & Partners were ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, by the committee.
This is the second time city officials have moved to develop the 4-acre, city-owned site on 72nd Street between Harding and Collins avenues. The land is now a municipal parking lot. Many area observers say the project is key to economic revitalization in North Beach.
City officials cancelled a contract with Equity One last fall when a key element fell through because developers couldn't find a movie theater company interested in the project.
Late year the city requested qualifications from interested developers, Mr. Gonzalez said.
The city-appointed selection committee met March 13 and ranked the three companies that responded.
Committee Chairman Jerry Libbin, a North Beach resident and president of the North Beach Development Corp., said the rankings were based on financial capability, track record and experience. Related's financial rankings by an independent agency were higher than the other two, although their scores were just one point behind, he said.
"I think all had excellent experience," he said. "However, Related Group demonstrated broader experiences in mixed-use development. While the others had done mixed-use, the depth of their mixed-use experience was not as broad."
Related's committee score was higher than the other two but the difference between the two remaining applicants was only two points, he said.
"I was pleased with the quality of the three companies. I don't think we would go far wrong with any of the three companies," Mr. Libbin said. "Whoever ultimately ends up with it I think has the capability of doing an excellent job."
He said he hoped the city would keep the project on fast track.
"This parcel is obviously vital to the improvement of the North Beach commercial district."
Once commissioners decide and a contract is set, the selected company will work with city officials and residents to develop an acceptable use of the land, probably some mixed-use development, Mr. Gonzalez said.
"Whether the city will lease or form a joint partnership," he said, "is still to be decided."