Imagine an elegant, two-story restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows on the Coconut Grove waterfront.
It’s a far cry from Scotty’s Landing, the watering hole that has drawn a steady stream of patrons to Dinner Key for more than three decades. But it may soon become a reality.
Scotty’s lease is up, and Miami city officials are considering a proposal to replace the landmark eatery, an affiliated marina and a fine restaurant nearby. The plan includes a casual pub that evokes the era of Charles Lindbergh, a high-end Peruvian seafood restaurant and a Shula’s Steak & Seafood — as well as a state-of-the-art boat storage facility, public promenade, banyan tree park, event space and a four-story parking garage.
“This will open up the waterfront for pedestrians,” said Richard Perez, of Grove Bay Investment Group, which is making the pitch. “We think people are going to fall in love with these plans, the architecture and the attention to detail.”
Grove Bay is the lone team vying for the job. A second team submitted proposal in May, but withdrew last week, citing “unforeseen circumstances.”
That doesn’t mean Grove Bay is certain to win the contract. Its proposal must still find support from a city-appointed selection committee, City Manager Johnny Martinez and the often unpredictable Miami City Commission.
Miami has already flubbed the procurement process once. City administrators issued a request for proposals for the project last year, but tossed the submissions after finding “irregularities” with the competitive bidding process. They started over in January.
Public Facilities Director Henry Torre said he could not comment on the latest RFP because it is under the “cone of silence,” a measure intended to prevent lobbying. Martinez also declined to comment.
But Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said he likes Grove Bay’s proposal — and is hopeful the city will move forward this time.
“This is what the waterfront needs,” Sarnoff said.
Scotty’s Landing, formerly known as Captain Dick’s Shack, has stood beside Miami City Hall for the past 35 years. Its owner, Scott Wessel, also operates Grove Key Marina on the waterfront property.
The laid-back eatery is a South Florida institution. Getting there requires trekking through a boatyard, and sometimes ducking a forklift or two. But the regulars won’t go anywhere else for a dolphin sandwich and draft beer.
Scotty’s patrons were outraged when city leaders issued the initial request for proposals for entrepreneurs interested in taking over the restaurant and marina last year. The city put out a separate request for restaurateurs interested in remaking the nearby Chart House, an upscale seafood restaurant.
But Martinez scrapped the two RFPs last summer, and later decided to issue a call for a single group interested in developing the marina, casual eatery and upscale restaurant. The team would also be required to build a parking garage.
Two groups responded by the May deadline: Grove Bay and Veleta LLC.
Veleta’s proposal included a tiki bar and upscale seafood restaurant. But the group withdrew its name last week after encountering “unforeseen issues,” Key Biscayne businessman Jose Cajiga said, declining to elaborate.