Voters to decide on two major projects in Miami and South Miami

South Miami ballot question would allow 4/5 vote for zoning changes downtown

Miami and South Miami residents are voting on the futures of two major projects in the Aug. 28 primary: the proposed Jungle Island hotel, and a land-use amendment that could allow the Shops at Sunset Place to be redeveloped.

Early voting is underway.

Rendering of the hotel at Jungle Island

Jungle Island hotel | City of Miami

ESJ Capital Partners wants to build a hotel limited to 300 rooms and 130 feet tall on the Jungle Island land it leases from the city of Miami. The developer is seeking a lease extension of 39 years, plus a 15-year option, for the hotel. The additional annual rent would total $250,000 for the first three years of operations. After that, rent would rise to $1.22 million, or 5 percent of total gross revenue – whichever is greater.

ESJ would also contribute $700,000 for the adjacent city-owned park and $750,000 for an affordable housing fund.

The proposed lease extension protects the city from delays by giving Jungle Island four years to receive a master building permit and six years to complete construction of the hotel.

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ESJ, an Aventura-based firm, closed on the $60 million lease transfer of the 18-acre Watson Island theme park in April 2017. The property, which closed due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma last year, has been reopening in phases.

Rendering of the Shops at Sunset Place redevelopment

Land-use amendment | South Miami

South Miami residents will vote on a proposed change to the commission’s voting requirements for land use and development regulations in the city’s downtown.

By establishing a four-fifths majority vote for commercial, industrial and mixed-use projects near the South Miami Metrorail Station, the South Miami City Commission would no longer need a unanimous vote for such changes, paving the way for projects like the Shops at Sunset Place redevelopment.

Federal Realty Investment Trust, Comras Company and Grass River Property proposed zoning changes that would allow the new ownership group to redevelop the mall. The commission voted down the zoning package last year.

The owners paid $110 million for the 500,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style mall in 2015. Their plans included knocking down parts of the mall and adding two apartment buildings with 400 units and a 200-room hotel and retail on the ground floor connecting both.