Miami-Dade County

City of Miami may attempt to annex land near Miami River, MIA

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado
Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado

The city of Miami will begin the process in the coming weeks of trying to annex some 1,600 acres near the Miami River and Miami International Airport, including valuable neighborhoods that are home to dozens of multi-national corporations.

City commissioners on Thursday directed administrators to begin creating annexation packages that would lay the grounds for the city to swallow up Melrose Park and Palmer Lake, Blue Lagoon West, Blue Lagoon and Waterford, and the unincorporated area near Northwest 36th Street south of State Road 112. The areas had a taxable base of about $1.33 billion in 2013.

Budget director Christopher Rose said annexing those communities will boost city coffers and benefit area residents in unincorporated Dade County who often mistakenly call the city for help and services. Mayor Tomás Regalado told commissioners that roping in the neighborhoods on the Miami River would put Miami in excellent condition.

“It’s important for the commission to look a few years from now,” said Regalado. “The Miami River will be more important as the Panama Canal [expansion] moves forward and as the Port of Miami accommodates bigger ships.... That area is the future.”

The proposal, pushed by District 1 Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort, has been on the table for months. In August, the Metropolitan Center of Florida International University completed a feasibility study requested by the city. According to the study, there are about 11,000 residents living in the four communities.

The study’s authors said the city would need to add 53 police officers, and total police services would cost an extra $7.5 million. But they estimated the city would pocket about $18 million after expenses thanks to property taxes and fees.

The most prominent of the four neighborhoods — Blue Lagoon and Waterford — is home to 100 multi-national corporations, including Burger King, Toyota and FedEx, according to the report. However, Regalado said it may be a “waste of time” to try to annex the lake-filled area, located directly south of the Dolphin Expressway and between Northwest 42nd and 69th avenues.

“The county is trying to look more into it in terms of zoning and development,” he said, adding that he’s had discussions with area County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa.

Still, commissioners agreed to pursue all four areas, for now. The other three neighborhoods are Blue Lagoon West, which is located next to the Blue Lagoon area; Melrose Park and Palmer Lake, which are on the north and south banks of the Miami River to the east of the airport; and 36th Street North, the area south of State Road 112 around Miami Jackson Senior High.

Horacio Stuart Aguirre, a Miami mortgage broker who said his firm represents a number of properties in the area that would be annexed, encouraged the city to move forward, saying it would be an improvement over the current conditions.

“We’re paying over $125,000 in real estate taxes,” he said, “and we’re getting zero benefit.”

Rose said the process will be lengthy. To attempt to annex the land, Miami commissioners would need to pass a resolution requesting the annexation from the county. The county commissioners would then need to approve the annexation.