Zoomiami Bids To Lure Largescale Entertainment Complex
By Lou Ortiz
After nearly 14 years, ZooMiami is close to gaining a multi-million-dollar entertainment and lodging facility and handing south Miami-Dade County an economic boost, officials said Tuesday.
In September, the county will solicit proposals through an invitation to negotiate to develop a hotel and motel, or a hotel and campgrounds, along with retail stores, restaurants and a family entertainment center, officials said.
"We’re marching ahead," said county Commissioner Dennis Moss. "We’ve got some interest that we think is promising at this time and we’re going to pursue those individuals."
The drive to lure a major development to the zoo began six years after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 left a trail of destruction. It was spearheaded by Mr. Moss and aided by Kevin Asher, supervisor of special projects for the county’s Park, Recreation and Open Spaces Department.
Mr. Asher also believes the interest is promising because the county asked developers what they would build for the zoo on 279 acres nearby. And, he said, major players — in the hotel and theme-park industry and others — expressed interest.
"The county is pleased that these three of many groups have the financial ability to develop the zoo property and the Coast Guard property," said Mr. Asher, adding that any proposal would have to include purchase of 279 acres near the zoo, of which the Coast Guard owns 240 and the county 39.
Once invitations go out in September, the groups would have until January to spell out proposals. Then the county could choose to negotiate with one or more developers by tying two plans together.
The county, Mr. Asher said, "is seeking a proposal that provides the best economic impact."To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.