Miami-Dade County

Will Miami commissioners rebuff the mayor’s $80M marina redevelopment a second time?

Rickenbacker Marina
Rickenbacker Marina Courtesy of Rickenbacker Marina

Note to self: Persistence pays.

Four days after verbal jabs failed to whip a majority of Miami’s five city commissioners into attending a specially called vote on a proposed $80 million marina redevelopment plan, it looks like Mayor Tomás Regalado will have a full dais Friday.

“They’re betting in Las Vegas to see if we will have a quorum,” Regalado joked Thursday. “And there’s a second bet on whether it will pass.”

Regalado wants the city to partner with marina operators RCI Group and Suntex Marinas to rebuild its two public marinas on Virginia Key. The proposal — which the team projects will bring the city $1 billion over the life of a fully extended 99-year lease — includes 162 wet slips, a mechanical Aero-Docks boat garage with 750 spaces, restaurants, a public bay walk and 30,000 square feet of marina-related retail.

In order to pursue the project, the developers need voters to approve the concept during the November election. And to get onto the ballot, they need the permission of a majority of Miami’s City Commission post haste.

But up till now, Regalado hasn’t been able to get commissioners into a room for a vote, with only Chairman Keon Hardemon and Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort attending Monday’s meeting on the project. Two commissioners — Frank Carollo and Francis Suarez — said they were out of town on business and unable to attend. Commissioner Ken Russell, whose attendance would have enabled a vote, skipped the meeting while arguing that the controversial project wasn’t ready to make it onto the ballot.

But rather than cancel the vote and give up, Regalado and the commissioners in attendance put the meeting in recess until Friday morning. Now, Carollo and Suarez said in interviews that they expect to attend. And Russell, while maintaining that the redevelopment is not ready for a vote of the public, says he won’t skip a vote on a significant project in his district.

“We shouldn’t be taking this up right now. But if we are taking it up, it should only be with a full dais,” he said.