SkyRise Miami set to take off once again, could be Florida’s tallest tower

The 1k-foot-tall entertainment and observation tower hired Plaza to begin construction in 2019

SkyRise Miami, Jeff Berkowitz, Brad Meltzer, president of Plaza Construction
SkyRise Miami, Jeff Berkowitz, Brad Meltzer, president of Plaza Construction

SkyRise Miami, the contentious 1,000-foot entertainment and observation tower planned for downtown Miami, is finally set to start construction next year.

When completed, it could become the tallest building in Florida, though other South Florida projects that are not yet built are planned to be slightly taller.

Berkowitz Development Group has selected Plaza Construction to begin construction on Skyrise Miami in the second quarter of 2019, with a completion date set for 2023, according to a release.

SkyRise Miami plans to feature various observation decks, an indoor controlled free-fall system and a “drop tower-style” ride featuring a 95-mile-per-hour descent. It was designed by Arquitectonica.

Berkowitz Development Group’s Jeff Berkowitz initially proposed SkyRise back in 2013, but lawsuits stalled the project, including one initiated after Miami-Dade County planned to award $9 million in public subsidies. The litigation ended in 2016 when Berkowitz stopped pursuing public funding. A Florida Supreme Court ruling in 2015 put to rest other legal challenges from community activists seeking to stop the development.

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Berkowitz originally sought to raise $270 million for the development, more than half the project’s construction price tag, through 540 EB-5 investors. The federal EB-5 program, however, has been mired in controversy and visa backlogs have made it difficult for Chinese investors to get visas. It is not clear if Berkowitz was able to raise the funding.

In 2016, New Jersey-based Legends Hospitality Group announced that it struck a partnership with Berkowitz Development Group, in which it will be responsible for food and beverage operations, sales and marketing, all guest interactions and day-to-day management at SkyRise Miami.

Currently, Panorama Tower in Brickell is the tallest building in Florida at 868 feet. Okan Group’s Okan Tower is planning to break that mark at 890 feet. The project plans to break ground later this year. Other projects that would exceed SkyRise Miami include FECR’s planned 1201 Brickell Bay Drive and One Bayfront Plaza, both at 1,049 feet tall and New York-based Property Markets Group’s planned Waldorf Astoria hotel-condo tower at 300 Biscayne Boulevard. The 1,049-foot tower will include a 140-key hotel and about 400 condo units.

Berkowitz Development Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Miami Today recently reported that a press conference announcing Berkowitz’s plans for SkyRise Miami is planned for November.