Despite panel rejections, city may extend lease for landmark Rusty Pelican restaurant
By Susan Stabley
The Rusty Pelican, a landmark waterfront restaurant on Virginia Key undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion, hopes to extend its lease with the City of Miami until 2022, but a city watchdog panel has twice rejected an extension.
The restaurant plans to invest $4 million in two new banquet rooms; a two-story, landscaped parking deck designed by architect Bernard Zyscovich; a small tiki bar; and a public bay walk, General Manager Peter Knezevic said Tuesday.
The Rusty Pelican, just off the Rickenbacker Parkway and owned by Biscayne Bay Restaurant Corp. of Anaheim, CA, has held a lease with the city since 1970.
The city's Waterfront Advisory Board rejected a lease extension during its July 8 meeting for a second time, said Vice Chairwoman Wendy Kamilar.
"We were given little to no information" on the terms, said Ms. Kamilar. "It was insufficient information for a real and accurate recommendation."
She said the board is reluctant to approve an extension before the city completes its master plan for the area, which includes the adjacent, derelict Miami Marine Stadium.
Leases for publicly owned waterfront properties require voter approval, said city spokesman Carlos McDonald. City commissioners are to consider today (7/24) putting a lease extension on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Robert Parente, director of the city's Office of Art, Film and Entertainment, said the mainland's skyline is a "beautiful backdrop" for the restaurant and he will ask the Pelican to add an outdoor stage as part of its lease application and pitch the view to television producers.
The restaurant's current lease will expire Oct. 1, 2012. The renewal application asks for a 10-year extension with two five-year options, according to city documents, and would guarantee the city at least $350,000 annually.