By now, Miami city leaders expected the city’s parking garages at Marlins Park to be filled with visitors hitting the restaurants and shops in the garages’ retail spaces.
But instead of shoppers, one garage is filling up with the Marlins’ stuff.
Miami city officials recently learned that the Marlins have been storing pallets of supplies in one of the four city-owned garages next to the new baseball stadium. City officials now want the Miami Marlins to pay more than $30,000 in additional monthly rent for using the Center Field garage south of the stadium as storage.
The city says the team is using about 18,000 square feet of space on the garage’s first floor. On Friday, a reporter found a long row of what appeared to be white plastic panels or barricades stacked on wooden pallets, along with some bags of cement and construction equipment.
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Henry Torre, director of public facilities for the city of Miami, sent an e-mail to a team official on Wednesday asking the team to pay about $30,000 in monthly rent and repair costs for using the parking garage. It’s unclear how long the team has been storing the materials in the garage.
Torre also said forklifts have been going in and out of the garage at the corner of Northwest 14th Avenue and Third Street loading the materials.
In his e-mail, Torre said that the Marlins still owe the city $24,000 in back rent for the use of parking spaces during the baseball season last year. The Marlins rent about 5,700 parking spaces at $10 a space during the baseball season, but the team does not have any right to use the garages for storage.
Torre said the team deducted the $24,000 from the rent payment last year because flooding in a parking lot made some spaces unusable.
“At that time, the city advised that the deduction was not approved and that we expected full payment. To date, this payment has not been received,” Torre said in his email to Claude Delorme, the Marlins’ executive vice president of ballpark development. Team officials did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
City officials expect to negotiate some kind of resolution to the dispute soon, said assistant city manager Alice Bravo. “I think we’re going to sit down and discuss the issue,” she said.
ROOM TO NEGOTIATE
Torre said that in lieu of rent for the storage, the city would be willing to take back some of the parking spaces to be used for the storefront restaurant-and-retail space the city installed in the garages, which opened last year. But so far, no businesses have opened in the garages.
The city built the four parking garages surrounding the Little Havana ballpark with $100 million in bonds.
The stadium itself was built with about $487 million in public financing from Miami-Dade County in a controversial deal that led to the recall of former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez.