Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Miami Beach may spend $26 million on land for transit hub

The city of Miami Beach may spend $26 million on property in South Beach that could eventually become a transit hub.

City Manager Jimmy Morales on Thursday signed a letter of intent to buy about three-quarters of an acre at 1100 Fifth St. The land, where the MacArthur Causeway dumps thousands of vehicles onto Fifth Street, is now leased by a Burger King and Pier 1 Imports.

Final purchase is conditioned on an appraisal, which hasn’t been done yet. The City Commission would also have to approve the deal, according to the letter of intent.

Mayor Philip Levine said the money would come from the city’s redevelopment district, which, Levine said, limits some spending to south of Sixth Street.

Levine noted the city already owns parking lots behind the commercial buildings. He said the site could become a pick-up and drop-off point for a light rail system that would run along the south side of the MacArthur Causeway.

“Here’s a piece of property that’s in a great location for it, and the city owns the other part of the property,” he said.

Dubbed Baylink at one point, the possibility of building a mass transportation system across Biscayne Bay has floundered in years past. But Levine, along with the mayors of Miami and Miami-Dade County, recently committed to pursuing the project once again. Planners say the project could cost $532 million to build and $22 million a year to operate and maintain.

Burger King’s lease ends in July 2016, while Pier 1’s lease runs through 2019, with two five-year options to renew. The city manager’s letter did not say how much rent the site generates from the retailers.

The City Commission is expected to vote on the deal at its May 21 meeting, according to Morales’ letter.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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