An effort to reimagine some of Miami’s most valuable real estate above and below Biscayne Bay officially launched Monday when three companies submitted plans to update and expand two city marinas on Virginia Key.
The bidders — two from Miami and one from Texas — responded to a city solicitation in June that called for the renovation or redevelopment of the Rickenbacker and Marine Stadium marinas, located off the westbound lanes of the Rickenbacker Causeway. The city’s Department of Real Estate and Asset Management wants bidders to increase the wet slips in the area from 198 to around 498, construct a public boat ramp, and contribute $3.45 million toward a 45,000-square-foot municipal parking garage.
The area to be renovated includes 53 acres, all but 10 of it underwater. The restaurants Whiskey Joe’s and Atlantica Seafood Restaurant were included in the area to be renovated, but not the Rusty Pelican. Developers were told base rent will be $2.15 million a year, plus a percentage of gross sales.
“This should have been done a long time ago I think because the marinas are getting old,” Mayor Tomás Regalado said. “It's a huge investment that these people are going to have to make because the plans are very ambitious.”
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It's a huge investment that these people are going to have to make because the plans are very ambitious.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado
Details of each proposal remain confidential under standard procurement laws. But the city released the identities of its potential partners after Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline.
Aabad Melwani, the current operator of the Rickenbacker Marina, submitted a bid in partnership with Walter Defortuna, the chairman of Fortune International Realty. They called their company New Rickenbacker Marina.
The competition includes Suntex Marinas, out of Dallas, which boasts Austin’s Crosswater Yacht Club and Canyon Lake Marina among its assets. RCI Group, led by Robert Christoph, also bid. The company operates River Cove on the Miami River, the 400-slip Miami Beach Marina, and until recently, operated city-owned Bayshore Landing in Coconut Grove.
Both Christoph and Melwani recently settled legal issues with the city. Christoph’s Bayshore Landing LLC agreed to pay Miami $150,000 in October after a city audit alleged the company owed $386,000 in unpaid “additional rent” from over a decade operating Miami-owned Bayshore Landing. Melwani’s Rickenbacker Marina Inc. agreed to pay $750,000 without admitting liability in order to resolve a lawsuit with the city that alleged he owed $2 million toward a parking garage.
The proposed terms of the lease include an initial 45-year term with two 15-year options. Voters would need to approve any deal.