Miami-Dade County

Vote on $9 million for SkyRise Miami set for Tuesday

Rendering of the SkyRise tower.
Rendering of the SkyRise tower. ARQUITECTONICA

The SkyRise Showdown is set for Tuesday.

A plan to provide $9 million in county funding for the SkyRise Miami observation tower stalled last month when commissioners split in a 6-to-6 tie. A revote is on the agenda for Tuesday’s commission meeting, and two commissioners will get a chance to vote on the issue for the first time.

Daniella Levine Cava wasn’t in office for the initial Nov. 5 vote. The commissioner she unseated in District 8, Lynda Bell, voted for the funding plan, which is backed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Commissioner Javier Souto was away from the dais for the vote, and it was his empty seat that caused the tie on the 13-member panel.

The funding plan became a proxy battle for Gimenez and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, whose daughter, Raquel, is considering a run for county mayor in 2016.

Mayor Regalado helped SkyRise win a city referendum this summer to build on Miami-owned waterfront next to Bayside Marketplace, but he said he wouldn’t have supported the effort if he knew the project was pursuing county tax dollars. SkyRise developer Jeff Berkowitz noted he informed the city in writing of his county request months before the August vote.

Gimenez calls SkyRise “the Eiffel Tower of Miami” and a worthy candidate for an economic-development program that commissioners have already extended to a planned theme park near Zoo Miami and to commercial projects at Opa-locka airport. The $75-million program was part of a nearly $3 billion borrowing program approved by voters in 2004, and it provides county dollars to fund parking, utility hook-ups and other infrastructure needs for developers. The money comes from a special property tax that funds voter-approved debt.

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