SkyRise Miami now in hands of city voters

Referendum scheduled in August, commissioners delay lease agreement decision
June 13, 2014 09:45AM

A rendering of SkyRise Miami

It’s up to Miami voters to decide whether a 1,000-foot observation tower is built in the city’s downtown.

City commissioners agreed to an August referendum for SkyRise Miami and delayed voting on a lease agreement between the operators of Bayside Marketplace and developer Jeff Berkowitz during Thursday’s meeting. The referendum is slated for Aug. 26, while the proposed lease is expected to be brought back to the commission in two weeks. One commissioner, Keon Hardemon, objected to the minority-participation component of the lease and pushed for the delay.

Berkowitz successfully pleaded with commissioners to hold the referendum during the summer, instead of waiting until the November general elections, according to the Miami Herald. The developer is privately funding the $400 million tower and said he would lose critical project backers if the vote wasn’t scheduled before November.

Under the proposed agreement, Berkowitz would sublease nearly two acres from Bayside and pay the city rent starting at about $1.1 million. He would also give Bayside’s operators rent starting at more than $1.3 million annually. The mall owner would agree to spend $27 million to improve the complex and increase its annual rent payment by at least $500,000 to $1.5 million. [Miami Herald]Eric Kalis