MIAMI

All Aboard Florida seeks downtown Miami property for train hub

 
 
An artist's rendering of what a Miami-Orlando train station in downtown Miami  may look like.
An artist's rendering of what a Miami-Orlando train station in downtown Miami may look like.

achardy@elNuevoHerald.com

Managers for All Aboard Florida, the project to build an Orlando-to-Miami passenger train service, are about to begin negotiations with Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency to acquire two parcels in downtown Miami as part of the plan to build a massive train station and transportation hub downtown.

The goal is to persuade the CRA to sell the parcels across from the Lyric Theater in Overtown to All Aboard Florida for $5.5 million, according to Michael Reininger, president and chief development officer for the train project.

All Aboard Florida’s disclosure that it is seeking to acquire the two parcels, currently operating as a parking lot, marked another significant milestone in the $1.5 billion train project. Reininger and the project’s public affairs manager, Ali Soule, also provided the first glimpse of what the Miami station and transport hub would look like. It wouldn’t be just a train station with amenities inside, such as restaurants, cafeterias and shops. It would also include office space, residential apartments and retail stores. One of the reasons All Aboard Florida wants to acquire the two parcels at the corner of Northwest Eighth Street and Second Avenue is because project managers want to build a multi-story building there that would feature apartments, offices, shops and parking for the area, the nearby Lyric Theater and the International Longshoremen’s Association — all connected to the train station.

The station would rise on parcels where parking lots operate right now, next to the county government building downtown. Those parking lots belong to the company in charge of All Aboard Florida.

The train would run from Miami to Orlando with intermediate stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Orlando station would be at the Orlando International Airport.

Originally announced in March 2012, All Aboard Florida is expected to launch by the end of 2015.

Sixteen daily trains would leave from each of the two terminus stations, at Orlando International Airport and downtown Miami, between early morning and the evening. Trains would take about three hours to complete each one-way trip.

Reininger said CRA officials will send recommendations to their board, which will decide whether to accept All Aboard Florida’s bid at a meeting scheduled for September.

CRA officials convened a review committee recently to look at three proposals. All Aboard Florida came in second, but the score with the other bidder was very close.

“As a result of the closeness, the CRA has decided to enter into simultaneous negotiations with both teams, the two highest-point getting responders,” Reininger said. “Whatever deals get negotiated will be presented to the CRA board for their vote.”

He said the two parcels are key to the project, as they are integral to the planned station and transport hub, a project he said will dramatically transform downtown Miami and Overtown, where project managers expect to create jobs and new opportunities for area residents and businesses.

“We are not just developing these two blocks,” Reininger said. “In fact, we’re developing a very major infrastructure and development program that will be transformative for the entirety of downtown Miami.”

Besides building the Miami station for the Miami-Orlando train, Reininger said, All Aboard Florida is also planning a transportation hub that would provide links between the intercity train and the Miami-Dade transit services there such as Metrorail, Metromover and Metrobus.

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