The request for a zoning change on a five-acre Doral tract formerly owned by the mayor’s children renewed the debate over a potential conflict of interest.
The City Council delayed the vote on the change last week. Mayor Luigi Boria called for the Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission to investigate whether it would be ethical for him to vote. Boria left the meeting in order to avoid ties to Grand Floridian, the company intending to develop on the land. Council member Ana Maria Rodríguez cited a letter from the legal office of Félix Lasarte – a lobbyist who advises Grand Floridian – that said the commission was not investigating. However, Joe Centorino, executive director of the commission, told the Miami Herald he expects the probe will conclude soon.
In June, Venezuelan businessman Juan Carlos Tovar bought the remaining 50 percent of shares of Grand Floridian from Boria’s children, Alex and Lorena. To do this, Tovar borrowed $3.6 million from them. El Nuevo Herald’s review of documents show Boria gave his children $5 million to buy their share of land, although Boria has denied this.
Residents criticized the government’s deal last year to develop about 6,000 new homes within two years, as previously reported. They said Boria’s kids stand to profit because Grand Floridian planned to build a luxury residential area in the city. [Miami Herald] – Mark Maurer