Miami administrators have reversed a decision to exclude a former city commissioner’s bayside bar and restaurant from a multi-million-dollar effort to redevelop the area around the Rickenbacker Marina.
City officials announced the change last week after the Miami Herald wrote about the Atlantica Seafood Restaurant & Market’s absence from a solicitation for proposals to operate an expanded marina and redevelop the surrounding area west of the Marine Stadium. The fish market, restaurant and supper club is operated by the family of former Miami Commissioner Armando Lacasa on a month-to-month management agreement.
The bar is located on a spit of land on the west side of Virginia Key, tucked amid dry boat storage stacks between the Rickenbacker Causeway and the Marine Stadium basin. Businessmen looking to bid on the marina solicitation said the restaurant’s exclusion inhibited their ability to design a top-notch facility, and questioned why the city would “gerrymander” the property out of its request for proposals.
Some believed the restaurant was set aside to benefit the Lacasas, even though the city is still owed $30,000 in unpaid rent on the building and the restaurant isn’t on the county’s tax rolls.
Armando Lacasa’s son, Carlos Lacasa — who is considering bidding on the marina project — has dismissed suggestions of favoritism, as has Mayor Tomás Regalado. City officials initially declined requests to include the property in the marina solicitation, but Regalado said they changed their minds after mulling it over.
“It became so complicated that the asset management people and the [city] manager said we should do it and get it over with,” he said.