Jungle Island Bailout Could Run Miami 2 Million
Written by Yudislaidy Fernandez on April 1, 2009
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Struggling theme park Jungle Island is asking Miami’s government to come to its rescue — once again — with a $2.4 million subsidy.
The city commission is to decide today (4/2) whether to defer the park’s annual rent payment of $400,000 for 48 months and to lend owners $800,000 from the general fund to pay off unpaid taxes.
The theme park would have to begin paying back the loan in July in $16,667 monthly installments for 48 months, the resolution states.
City Manager Pete Hernandez said Jungle Island must repay half of the $1.6 million deferred rent once it pays off a $28 million loan of which the city has been covering 80%. The park must pay the loan’s remaining balance by 2020, he said.
In 2004, Jungle Island stopped paying on the $28 million the county secured to help fund its relocation. The city later took responsibility for 80% of the debt.
Calls to CFO Larry Spring were not returned.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who was briefed on the item, said Jungle Island needs the $800,000 to pay off taxes in order to restructure a $13 million loan.
Jungle Island moved from Pinecrest to Watson Island about six years ago in search of bayfront and bigger profits but has struggled.
Ronald Krongold, co-owner with Bernard Levine, said deferment would help Jungle Island cover maintenance costs, make improvements such as adding new exhibits, and keep its 450 workers employed.
"This will help maintain those jobs and keep people employed," he said.
Mr. Sarnoff said he wants to go over the park’s books, including gross receipts for the year, to know if it can repay the city.
"I want to see their books and their business model to see if it works," he said. "Otherwise, we are throwing the money away."