• A $141 million hospitality center, featuring a four-star hotel and dining and meeting space, and;
• A $12 million convenience center, providing space for services such as a dry cleaner, convenience store, gas station and pet hotel/spa.
Neves said Odebrecht would build the hospitality and convenience centers first, while securing interest in the business park. The entire project would take five to seven years to complete once construction begins. The company has committed to ensuring 14 percent of its vendors are small businesses, he said.
As part of the project, Odebrecht would pay to move the airport’s “central base” — a hub of maintenance warehouses near the entrance — to a less attractive parcel behind MIA.
Earlier incarnations of Airport City envisioned a medical tourism hub and an energy plant. Both ideas have been scrapped — the medical hub over questions about demand and competition with the Jackson Health System, and the energy plant over security concerns next to an airport. Also gone: a plan to rebuild the existing airport hotel, which will remain in the terminal.
Abreu had hoped to give commissioners a taste of the project during Wednesday’s speech and bring it to a preliminary committee vote Friday. But the vote has been delayed because the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to officially wrap up its Airport City review.
Late comments to the FAA from the state raised questions — which Abreu described as minor — about documenting the historic characteristics of an airport building that once served as the headquarters of National Airlines and Pan American Airways.
Once commissioners take up the project, it may face another obstacle: politics.
Odebrecht USA is a subsidiary of a Brazilian engineering-and-construction conglomerate, Odebrecht S.A. One of the conglomerate’s affiliates — separate from the Coral Gables-based U.S. company — is expanding the Port of Mariel in Cuba.
In an attempt to stop Odebrecht USA from obtaining more local contracts, Miami-Dade lawmakers successfully sponsored state legislation last year prohibiting the state and municipal governments from hiring firms whose affiliates work in Cuba. A federal judge in Miami found the law unconstitutional; Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has appealed.
After the law’s court defeat, commissioners placed a non-binding question on the November ballot asking voters if the county should be prohibited from hiring firms with ties to state sponsors of terrorism, such as Cuba. The measure passed, with 62 percent support.
Abreu called commission politics “above my pay grade,” saying only that scuttling the project after Odebrecht was chosen over another bidder would delay Airport City for years.
Expect his department to emphasize the airlines’ support. James Burchett of AvAirPros, which represents MIA carriers, issued a statement praising Airport City, which it said “significantly enhances customer service at MIA” and “provides a much needed economic stimulus to the County.”
And Odebrecht will tout the number of jobs and economic impact the project could create. A study by the Coral Gables-based Washington Economics Group commissioned by Odebrecht in 2011 estimated construction would create about 5,800 jobs and $827 million, and operations about 10,000 jobs and $1.6 billion.
A previous version of this article misstated the acreage of the Airport City project.