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North Miami sells 50 acres for bayfront development

After two weeks of negotiations that continued into Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, North Miami has approved a deal to sell a portion of land on the city’s Biscayne Landing property to a developer, Oleta Partners.

The $20 million deal involved some tweaks to the original agreement, and both sides believe the terms will provide the city with more revenue and lead to development on the site, at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 151st Street. The deal also calls for the removal of contaminated soil from the former landfill site, and future remediation on the property.

The deal covers 50 acres. The city still owns an additional 100 acres of land that coule be developed on the bayfront site.

The council unanimously approved the deal about 1 a.m. Wednesday, after a three-hour recess so that both sides, and their legal teams, could finalize an agreement.

“I think we've gotten approximately $30 million in revenue,” Councilwoman Carol Keys said. “We've done our best. I think we've tightened it up.”

The deal initially proposed a $20 million purchase price to be paid up front, but now the city and Oleta Partners will have a purchasing option to have $4 million paid initially and then the remaining $16 million be paid 10 years after closing on the deal with a 3.5 percent interest rate.

“Together with other agreements that will streamline the development process going forward, this approval allows this critically important project to move forward,” Michael Tillman, president of Oleta Partners, said in a statement. “Once completed, the Biscayne Landing project will not only reshape the city of North Miami, but it will generate thousands of new jobs.”

On top of the $20 million, the city will receive 2 percent of the proceeds from the sale of condominium units on the site. City Manager Aleem Ghany said that over the course of what he characaterized as “marathon” meetings, both sides got most of what they wanted, including finalizing this part of the process.

“The stigma on this site has plagued North Miami for such a long time,” Ghany said. “The city is not losing, as far as I’m concerned. I think in this negotiation both parties came away thinking they got something.”

Ghany estimates that, based on the current market, if the condo units sell for $500,000 each, then the city could see more than $35 million in revenue over the next 10 to 15 years just from the condo sales.

“In 10 years, if it’s built out and with proper fiduciary responsibility, you could have over $50 million in surplus,” Ghany said.

In addition to the requirement that Oleta remove about 194,000 cubic feet of fill material from the site, the developer will take care of the future environmental obligations and groundwater work on the site. Ghany estimated that the city would save about $1 million by allowing Oleta to handle the environmental work. The developer will also be given a two-year extension on some of its construction obligations.

As the project takes shape, the council will have to pass ordinances to modify some of the city’s land-development regulations as well as approve any major changes to the site plan.

The vote on the deal was initially delayed at the City Council’s Oct. 14 meeting after almost four hours of public discussion on the process the city went through to determine the value of the land, the sale price and the timing of the deal. The developer plans 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 remaining residents at Tuesday’s meeting mostly spoke in favor of the deal. One of them, Carol Prager, said she was glad that after all the “drama” of the previous meeting, a resolution was reached.

“If you’re confident that this is in the best interest of the citizens, my faith is in you,” Prager said. “I hope this is the first step of the future of North Miami.”

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