Send by email

your name: email to: message:
Username: Email: Password: Confirm Password:
Login with
Confirming registration ...

Edit your profile:

Country: Town: State:
Gender: Birthday:
Email: Web:
How do you describe yourself:
Password: New password: Repite password:

Friday, August 24, 2018

A new hotel is the hands of Florida voters

Por DamianToo

In the beginning of a bulging election season with several questions on the ballot about leasing public lands for private projects, Miami voters will first have to decide whether to allow the construction of a hotel on a publicly owned island where historically the big plans and the taxpayers' money does not come to anything.

The owners of Jungle Island, ESJ Capital Partners, based in Aventura, want to achieve a goal that seems impossible: a new project on land owned by the city of Miami known for failed ventures and unfulfilled promises. In order for ESJ to even attempt to build the hotel, voters must approve the elimination of an open tender to extend the lease of the island to 2099, with an option for an additional 15 year extension, and allow owners to build a 13 floor hotelwith 300 rooms.

The question is included in the August 28 primary ballot for Miami voters. Early voting starts on Monday.

The proposed extension for Jungle Island of the lease makes it to provide public benefits to the city if the hotel is built, such as 700,000 dollars for maintenance repairs in the adjacent park, the Ichimura Miami-Japan Garden, and 750,000 dollars for a fund to build affordable housing. The owners would have the right, but not the obligation, to build a hotel.

Jungle Island would have four years to get general permission for the works and an additional six years to build the hotel. If the owners do not meet any of the deadlines, the extension of the lease of the land would be without effect. After the inauguration, the hotel would have to pay an annual rent of $ 250,000 for three years. That figure would increase to $ 1.22 million, or 5 percent of gross revenue, the higher figure, although the rent increase could be realized faster if the hotel's gross revenue reaches $ 23 million before three years.

The hotel is part of a broader vision to turn the park into an adventure-themed attraction, which the owners hope will attract tourists and city dwellers alike.

"The improvements at Jungle Island will create a true eco-themed adventure destination for Miami residents and tourists, something that does not exist in the city," said John Dunlap, Iconic Attractions CEO and president of Jungle Island. "Right now, people have to go to places like Orlando to enjoy this kind of experience. But if the voters support this, we will have it very close. "

People living near Watson Island, in the Venetian Islands sector, have long opposed urbanization on the island due to traffic and noise concerns, as well as the poor track record of other projects promised on the island.

In 2001, voters approved plans for a $ 1 billion resort that would have a hotel, stores and a yacht marina called Flagstone Island Gardens, which stands out only because the concept was not implemented. Overwhelmed by years of legal, financial and political problems, the owners of Flagstone have completed the marina's docking space. After losing a lawsuit against Flagstone a few months ago, the city may have to pay tens of millions of dollars, although the final figure will be determined at a hearing in a few months.

Dunlap acknowledged the history that supports skepticism about the hotel and promised that this project would be different.

"Jungle Island recognizes what has happened on Watson Island in the past, and as a member of the community for more than a decade, and with its new owners and leadership, we ensure that the project will be financed privately and taxpayer funds will not be used", he said.