The Real Deal Miami

Miami Innovation Tower plans nixed by city — again

City commission votes to eliminate media towers on the proposed site

July 23, 2015 06:15PM
By Francisco Alvarado

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Proposed Miami Innovation Tower

Proposed Miami Innovation Tower

Miami Innovation Tower is officially on life support.

Late Thursday, the Miami City Commission ratified an initial June vote adopting an ordinance that eliminates so-called “media towers” on the site proposed for the 633-foot high-rise featuring five large LED signs. The measure, championed by Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, deletes the term “media towers” from the city’s zoning code known as Miami 21.

However, an attorney for Michael Simkins, the Miami Beach-based developer of the innovation tower, told commissioners that his client plans to move forward with pending permit applications to build the project.

“We will continue to implement this development irrespective of what is done today,” said Tony Recio, a partner with Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman. “We look forward to having the permits fairly reviewed and evaluated.”

In a statement to The Real Deal, Simkins said he does not believe the new ordinance can be applied to his project.

“We are disappointed by the commission’s action,” Simkins said. “But we expect the city to comply with the law and respect our rights by honoring the sign permit applications and media tower approval by the CRA, and processing the sign applications in good faith.”

City commissioners Frank Carrollo, Willy Gort and Marc Sarnoff again voted in favor of the ordinance despite an impassioned plea from Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who was the innovation tower’s main supporter because he believes the project will generate jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for Overtown.

“That one time things are moving forward in a community that has been stagnant for such a long time, we make sure we put the roadblock right in the middle of it,” Hardemon said. “This is a slap in the face of the Overtown community.”

Simkins has touted the tower as the anchor to a 10-acre technology district that will help revitalize one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Hardemon, who represents the district and who is chairman of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Development Agency, backs the project because Simkins has agreed to pay the semi-autonomous city agency $5 million prior to construction, and $1 million, or 3 percent of gross sales generated by the project every year after completion.

Recio also said Simkins has committed to giving local preference to Overtown residents on construction jobs and for the operation of the innovation tower.

In June, prior to the city commission’s first vote, Simkins’ company Innovate applied for permits to embed the LED signs within the skin of the proposed tower’s twisting façade and along its pedestal.

  • kathy

    shame on Regalado, I hate that guy,It is the most stupid and mediocre person I know

  • MiamiParkAdvocate

    Mayor Tomas Regaldo showed great leadership by sponsoring the legislation to delete “media tower” from the Miami 21 Zoning Code. Educated citizens do not want to be harassed by visual pollution. No one wants to be distracted by 633′ tall LED billboard towers. Tourists do not travel to South Florida to be abused by billboards.

  • Jayson

    Silly idea.

  • Karl

    This is plain and simple an injustice to the people of Overtown and the Black community in general. Regalado has shown his corrupt ways yet again. 5 years ago he championed another Media Tower that was larger and within the 660 foot set backs that would put it in the purview of FDOT regulations and yet he went forward with a back office deal with the developer and then orchitstrated a sham city commission meeting that voted 4-1 in favor with Sarnoff, Gort and Carrollo in support. Now they repeal the language of Miami 21 with out looking at the true merits of the proposal or even looking at the smaller digital footprint that is being proposed in comparison to the monstrosity and larger 100,000 SF 5 faced displays of the Siffin Proposal that they voted for in May 2010. Furthermore, the Media Tower has been proposed and discussed since 1999 and had gone through 56 community meetings including CRA and City Commision Meetings. Regalado , Gort and Sarnoff should be called out for their hypocracy.