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Front Page » Top Stories » Public-private development could transform Palmetto Bay

Public-private development could transform Palmetto Bay

Written by on June 11, 2019
Public-private development could transform Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay will wait until next month to decide whether to proceed with a public-private project that, if approved, promises to transform the village’s downtown area into a modern city center.

Village officials and residents June 3 discussed the estimated $72 million development, which would redevelop about 4.6 acres off US 1.

But after roughly 90 minutes of talks, the village council voted 3-1 to punt further discussion with proposer i3 Interests LLC to July 15, citing an unfinished redrafting of the village’s downtown development code and a need to better define some of the proposal’s features.

Based in Houston with an office in Miami Beach, i3 Interests submitted an unsolicited proposal to the village in 2018 to redevelop 2.6 acres at 9705 E Hibiscus St., where Palmetto Bay’s village hall and police station stand, among other structures.

Palmetto Bay responded by requesting proposals for a public-private partnership. That, according to a report in South Florida Business Journal, prompted two neighboring landowners – Hagan Properties, which owns 1.5 acres; and Dixie 176 Corp., which owns 20,300 square feet – to offer their sites as part of the development.

The project then became subject to a village “cone of silence” hush rule, barring village employees from discussing details with the public.

The “cone” lifted last Monday, and Village Manger Edward Silva, Community and Economic Director Maria Pineda and i3 Interests founding Principal Rene Joubert detailed to residents and the village council the project’s provisional pieces.

They include:

■A three-story entertainment center housing a movie theater.

■An expanded village hall with a relocated entrance.

■A mid-range hotel run by a major operator.

■An up to six-story parking garage.

■Senior housing.



■Public plaza spaces.

“All of the economic trending feasibility studies – and we’ve conducted some [here] – they’ve all demonstrated a positive opportunity for development here at the village,” Ms. Pinedas said, adding that Palmetto Bay’s “most prominent feature [on the] US 1 corridor [now] is a high concentration of car dealerships.”

Where the modern city center would rise, she said, there now is “no group of similar businesses,” and the appearance of the area “is not ideal, buildings and surroundings [lack] character, [and there are] oversized parking lots and little landscaping or infrastructure improvements.”

As a result, she said, businesses there “fail at a rapid rate in substandard buildings.”

Ms. Pinedas said Palmetto Bay had received another proposal from real estate firm NAI Miami, whose $14 million plan would require the village to undertake debt and exercise eminent domain to acquire property.

Further, she said, the NAI plan omitted costs for developing a hotel and had no entertainment, senior housing or village square components.

None of the meeting’s attendees asked Ms. Pinedas or Mr. Silva why there was such a disparity in the quality of the two proposals, and neither gave reasons or guesses.

Mr. Joubert told the council that, if the project is approved next month, predevelopment processes would take about a year before construction begins.

During that time, he said, i3 Interests – comprised of architecture firm Gensler and Burton Construction – would interview contractors specializing in the project’s various parts.

“We want to make sure that we get the right people to be constructing each of the major components,” he said. “[Burton] would manage that process.”

Mr. Joubert said cost estimates are based on projections made by contractors that Gensler contacted about the project, whose funding would come from three sources: private money, bank loans and village dollars.

“That doesn’t mean the village has to write a big check,” he said, listing land leases or parking revenues as alternate ways for the village to contribute funds.

But the “big check” option is also on the table, he continued, as is the case in Homestead, where i3 Interests is building a $51 million mixed development with similar structures, as well as a tech-driven “Cybrary.”

Homestead’s contribution to the “Homestead Station” project, he said, is $33 million.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Karyn Cunningham later told Miami Today that she wasn’t interested in having Palmetto Bay spend that much.

“If we’re able to get dollars from the state for the parking component… I would consider that our contribution,” she said. “Until I better understand where we’ll be talking about floating bonds and increasing taxes, [spending village dollars on the project is] counterintuitive to what we’re trying to do as a community.”

Ms. Cunningham joined Councilmen Patrick Fiore and David Singer in voting to defer further talks with i3 Interests to next month.

Mr. Singer at first had urged the council to OK entering into preliminary negotiations with the developer, calling the area targeted for redevelopment “blighted” and a failure to move forward by the council “disgusting.” He relented once it was clear not enough support on the dais existed for a same-day approval.

Councilwoman Marsha Matson, the sole vote against the deferral to next month, argued it would be more prudent to wait until the village finished rewriting its code before setting a decision date.

Ms. Matson said she’d “respectfully disagree” that the area was blighted and told Mr. Singer he should look up that descriptor’s definition. And because Palmetto Bay is a qualified Opportunity Zone, she said – meaning businesses developing in the area, as well as taxpayers investing in those developments, stand to receive significant capital gains tax benefits – there will be no shortage of development interest there.

“I look at it as a treasure-to-be,” she said. “This presentation is the cart before the horse. We’re working on rewriting our code, [and] we should not have the proposal just outside the door.”

Palmetto Bay resident Chuck Bradshaw said the added time would allow Palmetto Bay to better inform his neighbors, many of whom aren’t aware of the “huge undertaking” the village is considering.

“Let’s just really do a good job of making sure everybody understands this project and all its implications,” he said.

And that’s the point, Ms. Cunningham said: residents should be excited – not apprehensive or, worse, unaware – by what could be coming to downtown Palmetto Bay.

“If I choose to vote to move forward with negotiations later with the project,” she said, “it will be something that this council and the community feels enthusiastic about.”

8 Responses to Public-private development could transform Palmetto Bay

  1. Carol Vega

    June 12, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    I’m sitting here trying to form words that aren’t foul language. The greed of these politicians and these developers knows no bounds. Blighted area? This is been my home for over 19 years. It was green, it was quiet, it was a village. No one wants a city except someone who wants to line their pockets or have photo ops. It’s a disaster, it’s a sin and mayor or not no one speaks for us, the residents.

  2. DSP

    June 14, 2019 at 7:20 am

    There’s already a big apartment/condo complex being built blocks from the village. They have taken out the workout machines from the park. There’s already a lot of traffic in that area of US1 and to take the kids to school. Bow when those residents move in there will be more traffic, there will be more parents taking kids to school. Imagine how much more traffic with a movie theater, hotel etc.. wow!! The greed is real!

  3. Sally Stern

    June 14, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Overdevelopment is destroying our south Florida cities! I don’t think citizens should bear the costs for developer’s greed! Palmetto Bay is a beautiful VILLAGE and should be kept as such.

  4. Veronica Pozo

    June 14, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    I’m looking forward to the much needed redevelopment to the neglected and underutilized downtown village area. A place where community residents can establish local businesses, our kids can have a place to enjoy themselves right in our own village. Glad further discussions and negotiations will proceed soon. Much needed, Thank you Village Manager Edward Silva, Community and Economic Director Maria Pineda and as a Palmetto Bay resident Mayor Karyn Cunningham, I’m excited and enthusiastic of the positive changes coming to the village. More information and discussion on the pros of this development need to be presented. Thank you

    • Carol Vega

      June 15, 2019 at 7:10 pm

      And you live where?

      • Think before you Post

        June 16, 2019 at 11:20 am

        You couldn’t deduce where she lives??? Nice try to deflect from the point with nonsense…

  5. Al Pozo

    June 14, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    There is a vocal minority of Palmetto Bay residents who go to weekly council meetings and oppose most progress in the village in the name of “we want less traffic”. BUT, traffic keeps coming through our neighborhoods, I have been a Palmetto Bay resident for over a decade and in that time of “Non-Development” the traffic has increased tenfold, because residents south of Palmetto Bay cut through our neighborhoods. Opportunities to develop parts of the village for entertainment, dining and community centers…As well as comprehensive road structures, bridging and REAL traffic calming measures are voted down by a council that wants to keep their seats, becase the vocal minority actively keep them in those seats. I would love for the silent majority of younger families that don’t have the time to show up every Monday evening to council meetings would join, vote and improve development of VoPB to benefit us, so we won’t have to drive away and contribute to tax revenues in neighboring villages. We need more choices in Palmetto Bay, let’s develop them!!

  6. Captain

    June 21, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Our Council was elected by us- we should trust their collective judgement. We citizens should not be trying to control all the decisions to be made- that’s why we elected them!
    If we have learned one thing in this country, it’s that you cannot stop progress! Denying building in VOPB will just send the work to Cutler Bay or Homestead and traffic will still affect VOPB without any benefit.