After hours of discussion, presentations and comments from residents, the North Miami City Council voted to delay a decision on selling a portion of its Biscayne Landing property to the site’s developers.
The council decided Tuesday night to wait on voting, to allow the developers, the city staff and the appraisal firms to discuss the terms of the sale agreement and the sale price and also to allow the council and residents to read the terms more thoroughly.
“We have this huge $20 million contract,” Councilwoman Carol Keys said. “We’ve got to get this right.”
The agreement would sell about 50 of Biscayne Landing’s 184 acres and require the developer to remove about 194,000 cubic feet of fill material from the site. The developer wants to build thousands of condominium units, an entertainment area and a mixed-use space with a hotel and potential office space that will keep residents and visitors in the site and allow for pedestrian traffic. The site is a former landfill at Biscayne Boulevard and 151st Street.
“Oleta Partners, LLC is hopeful that we will reach an agreement with the city of North Miami within the next two weeks to purchase approximately 50 acres of residential land at Biscayne Landing,” the developer said in a statement. “We will continue to work diligently with the city in the days ahead to address all remaining questions and concerns.”
The delay in the vote came after nearly four hours of public discussion on the item, as residents and the public were divided between urging the city to vote Tuesday to approve the sale while others asked them to delay — with some asking them to wait until after the Nov. 4 special election for mayor.
“I am uncomfortable with rushing the council and the people of this city to read a long document and analyze all the effects of the various verbiage in there,” Alita Rosenfeld, a city resident, said.
There was also extended discussion of the process the city went through to determine the value of the land and the proposed selling price, with multiple residents giving their own calculations and disagreeing with the findings of the appraisal. Three appraisals were done by Lewis Appraisals and Consulting, Gallaher and Birch and Integra Realty Resources.
The appraisers’ estimates of the bayfront property’s value, based on the 99-year lease agreed to in 2012 between the city and developer, ranged from $12.5 to $21 million.
“That land is much more valuable than $20 million,” Holly Cohen, a resident and real estate attorney, said.
Others argued that the city has delayed the project for long enough and said that construction workers are continuing to miss out on jobs because of the stalled development on the project.
“Those guys, they don’t have anything,” Enoch Milien, a North Miami pastor, said. “Let’s not play politics.”
The talks over the sale of the property have been ongoing since earlier this year, and plans for the site date back several years. Resident Michelle Garcia told the council that the city needs the money from the sale.
Kids in her neighborhood “play on the same swing sets and go down the same slides I went down as a child,” Garcia said. “That shows you how desperately this city needs this money.”
The next City Council meeting will take place 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 at North Miami City Hall, 776 NE 125th St.