Melreese golf course deal for major development targeted for May
After debate over a Melreese golf course deal still being negotiated boiled over in November, Miami commissioners have let talks simmer, awaiting a May update from lawyers.
Attorneys retained for ongoing negotiations with Miami Freedom Park laid out issues in December. Ex-commissioner Marc Sarnoff, one of the city’s lawyers for the deal, said commissioners could hear a direct report in May and “there’s not complete agreement” between the two parties.
“I think it’s fair to say – and I’m going to give myself and our group a little bit of leeway – I would put it for direct report by the second meeting in May,” he said.
Billion-dollar Miami Freedom Park, a city hall hot button, would develop a million square feet including a Major League Soccer stadium, office and retail buildings and a hotel on the city-owned park by the airport.
The deal hinges on pending land appraisals. But prior to appraisals, environmental studies are a must, which Mr. Sarnoff dubbed the X-factor. The process with the Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) could take 60 days.
Commission Chairman Ken Russell asked lawyers to inform him on DERM’s options for remediation and advised commissioners to search for parkland to replace what would be lost at Melreese.
“I don’t want that if this passes and you were against it, that your district doesn’t get the park it deserves,” Mr. Russell said.
“Of course, Mr. Chairman, most of that parkland has to be in District 1, because that’s where it’s being take away from,” said Alex Diaz De La Portilla, the district’s new commissioner.
Commissioner Joe Carollo asked for a run-down on appraisal methodology.
“It’s our responsibility and obligation that for future Miamians we leave the most income that we can for this project,” he said. “It’s one of a kind. It cannot be duplicated ever again.”