Rail station mega-project on two tracks
By Lidia Dinkova and
John Charles Robbins
The plan to build a railroad station and surrounding mega-project in the heart of downtown Miami is moving forward, but on two different tracks.
The project faced being derailed last week when city commissioners maneuvered for more say in the process, arguing a proposed agreement gave the county too much control.
The proposed agreement sailed past a Miami-Dade County committee, but the same day city commissioners met and hammered out an amendment that would give the city a layer of protection from unwanted buildings.
The agreement, part of a larger project by Florida East Coast Industries to build a train depot and create All Aboard Florida linking Miami to Orlando, calls for a committee comprised of county and city representatives to sign off on proposed developments, including the train station. Should the three city representatives not approve of the development’s design, the committee would recommend a denial to the county commission.
After much debate, city commissioners added wording that the county would need a vote of at least 9-4 to override the committee’s recommendation.
Assistant County Attorney Dennis Kerbel said the county commission is to vote April 8 on whether to incorporate the city’s changes. It’s not known what would happen if county commissioners refused to do so.
County Commissioner Xavier Suarez said the city’s amendment to the agreement sounds “reasonable.”
“In this case we are trying to cooperate, so if we want to override them, we should have a supermajority,” he said.
Vicky Garcia-Toledo, an attorney for the developer, said if the private enterprise funding this venture had to deal with only one government instead of two, things would move faster.