When Miami officials approved the development agreement for downtown’s giant urban project, Brickell City Centre, they were set to negotiate additional infrastructure with developers to include a fire station to meet imminent demands for emergency services in the area.
But more than two years later — and with construction scheduled to be finished by the end of 2015 — it’s not yet clear where the fire station will be built.
City administrators said they’re currently negotiating possible locations within the options offered by project developers.
Meanwhile, some are worried that the lack of a rapid solution will impact nearby fire stations. The question about why the administrators, who negotiated with the urban developers, didn’t include the construction of the fire station in written documents is also up in the air.
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The agreement between the city and the developers of Brickell City Centre only mentioned in one paragraph the addition of “public installations” in case they were necessary.
“At that time, we didn’t anticipate that there would be so much development in the area and that this would create such density,” said Alice Bravo, assistant city administrator and the person in charge of negotiations. “We’re in the negotiating process, and we’ve made it clear that we want a location within the project or close to the project.”
The Brickell City Centre project encompasses nine acres from west Brickell Avenue up to the Miami River. The project includes a tower, which will be one of the tallest in Miami, and other buildings that will house a total of 780 condominiums, offices and businesses. Swire Properties Inc., a subsidiary of a Hong Kong development company Swire Properties Ltd., started selling the condominiums last year priced in the range of half a million and $2.7 million.
Swire representatives did not respond to several requests for comment.
The closest fire station to Brickell City Centre is located on 1104 SE Second Ave. and is one of the busiest fire stations in the city, according to Miami Fire Chief Maurice Kemp.
“The way in which our rescue system works is that the nearest stations respond to the emergency,” Kemp explained. “When we’re talking about development projects which are extremely large, they definitely impact all the operational departments of the city.”
Commissioner Frank Carollo, whose district includes east Little Havana, said that the demand for the services offered by the fire station on Second Avenue could create problems for residents who already depend on that station.
“Many of the calls made to that station are not because of fires but because of health reasons, such as heart attacks. It’s important to have a rescue unit which can respond to those calls and help people in need as soon as possible,” Carollo said on Friday. “If the city has given certain help so that this project can come to fruition, now the developer can’t turn his back on the community, and I hope that they do the right thing so that this fire station can be located inside of the Brickell City Centre.”
Municipal administrator Daniel Alfonso said that now that Miami is experiencing a construction boon, he hopes the inclusion of fire stations becomes more common in development agreements.
Swire is not the first company with which the city of Miami has negotiated this type of agreement. An urban developer constructing an apartment complex on Coral Way and Southwest 31st Avenue reached an agreement with the city to build a space to house a fire station.
City administrators are also in the process of talks with developers of the Miami Worldcenter project, which will occupy nearly 30 acres near downtown and includes a fire station in its plans.
“Many of these projects involve collaborations between the public sector and the private sector,” said Alfonso. “This is a way of making the private sector recognize that growth also augments the need for more infrastructure for public services. And when they work with us and facilitate spaces for us within their projects, they’re simultaneously meeting with public safety requirements.”
Carollo said he hopes development agreements in the future are more specific.
“The city has to do a better job of asking for everything in writing from our attorneys.” Carollo said.
This story has been updated with new information.
Follow Brenda Medina on Twitter @BrendaMedinar.