Miami Heat delays building retail area in order to host yacht race
By Paola Iuspa
Development of a prime piece of bay land behind the American Airlines Arena appears to be on hold until the end of a yacht race to be based there next spring.
Doris Howe, speaking for the Heat Group, said it was "possible" plans for the barren 150,000 square feet of land would take off after the Volvo Ocean Race. Yachts will dock east of the arena March 27-April 14, organizers said.
Although Miami-Dade owns the site and the land where the arena sits, the Heat Group has the rights to use and build on it, Ms. Howe said.
Plans for about 100,000 square feet of retail and an amphitheater last year seemed to be final but Ms. Howe said plans for what is known as Parcel B are on the drawing board.
"We can not really tell when construction would start because we are in the planning stages," she said. "It is a possibility we may start developing Parcel B once the Volvo race is over. But that is just a possibility."
Ms. Howe said the Heat Group, owner of the NBA's Miami Heat, is seeking a retail partner.
Jim McMichael, marketing director at Bayside Marketplace across from the arena, said he had approached the Heat Group about the parcel.
"The plan was for them to develop the land and for us to manage it," Mr. McMichael said. "But they decided not to go ahead."
During the 19-day race, the site is like a village with seminars, concerts, foods and boat work stations, said James E. McDouglas, chairman of the Miami Host Committee for the Volvo and an attorney with Duane Morris & Heckscher. The Heat Group, he said, is a sponsor.
"I call the Miami Heat 'our partner' because they are giving us the land for the Volvo," he said.
Temporary floating docks will serve eight teams competing in the 2001-02 around-the-world race, formerly known as the Whitbread, he said.