Firms vie for zoo entertainment complex
By Meghan Mangrum
Miami-Dade County will be scheduling meetings with two companies in the next month after evaluating two proposals to develop a Zoo Miami Entertainment Area that could include a water park, hotels and other entertainment facilities.
Local companies Dinosaur Park Miami Corp. and Miami Wilds LLC submitted proposals in response to a 2012 county request. Both will now be invited to make oral presentations to the county’s review committee within 30 to 45 days, according to Laura Phillips, information officer for the county’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces.
Paul Lambert of Lambert Advisory, head of Miami Wilds LLC, confirmed the proposal submitted to the county but noted that others are involved, including California-based companies. Dinosaur Park Miami Corp. is headed by Marcus Wolter of Germany.
The proposals were originally due at the beginning of May, but the deadline had been extended to the end of May, with a proposal still being received long after that. Dinosaur Park’s proposal was received May 29 and Miami Wilds’ was received by the county July 1.
The next step in the arduous project was an evaluation of the two proposals by the review committee, which was set up through the mayor’s office, with the possibility of the developers being invited to present an oral proposal to that committee, according to Bill Soloman, chief of contract management and procurement at Miami-Dade County.
After oral presentations, the review committee will discuss any additional questions with the proposers. Once that’s done, the committee is to recommend one of the two proposals to Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
These proposals represent just another step in the county’s attempt to develop the area around Zoo Miami, a process that has continued for over a decade and has yet to come to fruition.
Commissioner Dennis Moss raised the development concept in the 1990s after Hurricane Andrew devastated the area around the former Metro Zoo, now known as Zoo Miami. The idea of a theme park for the location grew into a goal for a South Florida version of a Universal Studios-type theme park, with the potential for a water park, hotels or even camping facilities.
Miami Today previously reported that the idea encompasses more than 100 acres within the zoo and another 279 acres within the adjacent US Coast Guard base a proposal including the Coast Guard land would require a separate relocation plan. The county’s request included options for proposals from developers including any combination of attractions, amusements, lodging, food service and themed retail space, conference halls, etc.
Miami-Dade has been through the process before, but the proposals never moved forward, as the developers were found to not have the equity to finance the project, according to Kevin Asher, supervisor of special projects for the parks department.
The current process, Ms. Phillips said, can take a few months.