Watson Island Visitor And Aviation Center Delayed
By Jaime Levy
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Start of construction of the Greater Miami Visitor & Aviation Center on Watson Island has again been delayed, this time to the end of the year.
Miami-Dade county commissioners Tuesday voted to allow more time for the center’s long-discussed groundbreaking. The island is owned by the City of Miami, but the planned visitors’ center in July won a county pledge for $3.8 million in convention development tax money and the agreement required construction to start this month.
The 45,000-square-foot center also has secured $9.5 million from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which will move its headquarters there from Brickell Avenue.
In addition, the 5.6-acre site of the $12.5 million center is to include a terminal for Chalk’s Ocean Airways seaplanes and a regional helicopter base, a 15,000-square-foot visitors’ center, new offices for the Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority, a small museum and a third-level observation deck.
"The commission extended the time from Feb. 26 to the end of the calendar year as the time to start construction," said Bill Talbert, convention bureau president and CEO. "Had they not extended the time, the $3.8 million would have gone away. The partnership is between the bureau, the City of Miami, the Florida Department of Transportation, Chalk’s – there are so many partners, getting into the final stages is taking longer. It’s the nature of the complexity of the project.
"We’ll get the shovel in the ground by the end of the year."
Other developments on the 86-acre manmade island include Parrot Jungle, which began construction last summer, the Miami Children’s Museum and a planned mixed-use development that includes hotels, a mega-yacht marina and retail.