Port Of Miami Wins Fasttrack Ok For Development Partnership
By Victor Cruz
With the clock ticking on the Port of Miami’s need to use or risk losing $9 million in state development funds by Dec. 31, the county has fast-tracked approval of a partnership between the seaport and three of its most prominent tenants to launch 37 projects.
Plans include building a fly-over highway that will separate cargo traffic from that bound for cruise lines.
Ultimately more than a $111 million capital improvement plan, the ‘master development agreement’ calls for P&O Ports of Florida Inc., one of tenants, to act as developer. The other two companies, Carnival Cruise Lines and Port of Miami Terminal Operating Company, or POMTOC, are also taking an active role in the planning and development process.
P&O, also a partner in POMTOC, will be paid more than $1.7 million to serve as master developer of 33 upcoming redevelopment projects included in the deal. Carnival and POMTOC will not be compensated, but are to participate in the planning and design phase of four projects.
While the county maintains final control over the project’s budget, the goal of the agreement, said the port’s director, is to reach a consensus. "We’re partnering with the private sector to solicit their input," said Director Charles Towsley, referring to the three firms included in the project.
Among other improvements are expansion and relocation of the port’s gateway, redevelopment of access roads, renovation of transit sheds, and the construction of security facilities, parking garages and wharves, according to county documents.
"This is for the redevelopment of the east portion of the cruise zone. We’re going to separate cruise and cargo traffic," Mr. Towsley said. "Terminals 8, 9, 10 and 11 will have a fly-over into the cruise area, with loop access."
By shifting the gateway into the port, he said truck traffic could enter more directly into the facility, helping to ease traffic tie-ups. During the past year, port officials said shippers have threatened to take business elsewhere as a result of increasing downtown traffic congestion near the port.
Aside from $9 million in state funds the county also has another $8 million in committed grant money, with plans to draw other necessary money from a $150 million Sunshine State Loan approved last month by the county.
The project, which county officials say they hope to get under way by the end of the year, is expected to take four years to complete. It will likely begin with the building of a $9 million parking garage for Carnival.
While state funds must be committed by the December deadline, spending the funds will not be completed until the first quarter 2002, Mr. Towsley said.
It’s not the first time a partnership agreement was undertaken at the port. In 1998, the port entered into a similar agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for an $80 million dollar project for improvements to terminals 3, 4 and 5. The agreement saved the county millions of dollars, said Jess McCarty, assistant county attorney, who is overseeing the agreement made last week.
"POMTOC and Carnival are responsible for 40% of revenues to the port," Mr. Towsley said.
A partner in POMTOC, P&O’s activities in Miami include terminal development, operations, logistics management, property development and management, ferry services and stevedore services.
Carnival, based in Miami, began operating cruises in 1972. It now operates 15 ships out of eight US cities and San Juan, PR. Six of its ship are based at the Port of Miami.
Port of Miami Terminal Operating Co., or POMTOC, is made up of four stevedoring operators at the port and operates the port’s common carrier terminal, which services about 35 different shipping lines.