Miami-Dade chairman: Water park project near Miami MetroZoo must be viable or it won't go forward
By Scott E. Pacheco
The process to name a developer for a planned water park on land adjacent to Miami Metrozoo remains in the selection stage cone of silence, though the county commissioner who has championed the project says there is no rush.
"It needs to be viable, makes some sense and has the ability to compete with not just the neighboring attractions [but those] across the state," said Dennis Moss, chairman of the Miami-Dade commission. "These kind of things take time, particularly during these economic times. I'd rather folks take the time [they] need to take rather than rushing."
And once bids are thoroughly vetted, Mr. Moss stressed that doesn't necessarily mean the project will move forward.
"We can't have Joe's Water Park," he said. "This has to be state of the art, something that has some credibility to it.
"If not, then we go back to bid."
Mr. Moss said things are "still in the evaluation process" and part of that process may "entail negotiation with applicants."
Several calls and e-mails to county officials involved were not returned.
Jacksonville-based PARC Management LLC and Fort Lauderdale-based Recreational Design & Construction Inc. have bid to build the water park, and possibly an entertainment center and 200-room hotel that would also be part of a complex to sit near the zoo.
A comprehensive plan amendment to incorporate the project was withdrawn from a committee agenda last week, though Mr. Moss said it was withdrawn only because it was determined the action wasn't needed for the plan to move forward and not because of issues with the project.
Miami-Dade commissioners in July 2008 cleared up lingering land-use issues, opening the door to seek developers. The county plans to lease the land to either one developer for both the water park and entertainment center or to two developers to handle one project each. Developers are to pay all costs, including improving public infrastructure, and are to invest up to $40 million.
The county would be on the hook only for signs and road and parking improvements, set to be covered by general obligation bonds.
Documents require a 2021 completion. Until then, the land is to be protected from down-zoning.
Mr. Moss has been pushing this project for years, and that's part of the reason he said the county needs to "make sure" the right developer and plan are in place.
"I don't want to accept just anybody at this particular point in time."