Biscayne Landing developer can start negotiating land purchase

North Miami Council members approve initial talks, appraisals of 50-acre site

Jul.July 09, 2014 12:45 PM

The North Miami City Council voted 4-0 to begin negotiations to sell 50 acres of the 190-acre Biscayne Landing site to the project’s developer during Tuesday’s meeting.

The deal hinges on the removal of 194,000 cubic yards of contaminated fill from the Biscayne Landing property and Oleta River Partners agreeing to the city’s sale price. As part of the unanimous vote, the council authorized City Manager Aleem Ghany to obtain two appraisals for the 50 acres. Oleta wants to build a residential tower on the land.

In 2012, Oleta – a partnership between developers Michael Swerdlow and the LeFrak Organization – signed a 99-year lease with the city to build a shopping mall, residences, offices and a hotel. The agreement included an option for Oleta to buy 50 acres after the developer had completed several infrastructure improvements. In exchange for getting rid of the fill, Oleta wants to speed up its purchase of the 50 acres, according to the city’s resolution. Oleta would pay for appraisal and legal costs associated with the sale.

“We believe this is a significant step forward and reflects the renewed spirit of cooperation between us and the City Council,” Oleta principal and LeFrak director Michael Tillman said in a written statement.

Councilwoman Carol Keys said the proposed deal could resolve the city’s dispute with Oleta over the contaminated fill without resorting to litigation.

“I think it’s a win-win situation,” she said. “It’s better for the community to get things moving.”

However, if the city and the developer can’t agree on the terms to sell the 50 acres, Oleta is not obligated to remove the contaminated fill, according to Keys.

Biscayne Landing has had numerous setbacks since the city first approved the project in 2002.

The original developers went belly-up in the mid-2000s after finishing the first residential tower, One Fifty One Biscayne. The city then entertained offers from several developers, including one that proposed an indoor snow skiing resort, before reaching a deal with Oleta.

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