Lawsuit alleges “vague and ambiguous” language could hamper David Beckham’s soccer complex plan in Miami

Miami attorney is asking the court to determine which portion of the site would be developed

Jan.January 24, 2019 11:40 AM

David Beckham (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)

Miami attorney David Winker filed his second lawsuit in a week against the city of Miami, attempting to derail David Beckham and his partners’ plan for a multimillion-dollar soccer complex.

In the latest lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Tuesday, Winker focuses on the ballot language that was used in the November referendum that voters approved. The referendum, which waives competitive bidding for the property, allows the city to negotiate and execute a 99-year lease with Miami Freedom Park LLC, an entity that includes the soccer star, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, and brothers Jorge and Jose Mas, for the Melreese Country Club site.

In the lawsuit, Winker alleges that the language, now part of the city charter, is “vague and ambiguous” and that the city legally may not use the referendum to bypass competitive bidding requirements and negotiate and execute a lease.

The referendum states that Miami Freedom Park LLC would lease about 73 acres of city-owned property “generally at 1400 Northwest 37th Avenue,” also known as the Melreese Country Club, and that it would undertake the remediation and site development for a roughy 58-acre public park.

That comes out to a total of 131 acres, not the 157 acres that the properties total. Two property folios make up the majority of the 157 acres: a 130.3-acre parcel that includes most of the golf course and represents the western portion of the site, and a 48.4-acre parcel that includes the Melreese clubhouse and First Tee Miami classroom and driving range on the northeast side and the water park and baseball fields on the southeast end. As part of the deal, the water park and baseball fields would remain as is.

One issue that Winker cites is that the address used in the referendum is not the address of the Melreese Country Club; instead, it matches the 130.3-acre golf course parcel on the west side. The country club’s address is 1802 Northwest 37th Avenue.

A spokesperson for the city of Miami did not respond to a request for comment.

Winker is alleging that it’s impossible to know which of the 73 acres Miami Freedom Park plans to lease and develop, “so it is an unenforceable vague and ambiguous statute,” he said. Alternately, he’s asking the court to declare that the language only covers the 130.3 acres of golf course land.

Critics of the plan argue that the deal was rushed. The proposed $1 billion project also calls for at least 750 hotel rooms and a minimum of 1 million square feet of office, retail and commercial space.

In a separate lawsuit filed last week, Winker is alleging the city broke its own lobbying laws when dealing with Miami Freedom Park LLC. Winker claims that Beckham and his partners only registered as lobbyists after he filed an ethics complaint last year. Winker is also alleging the city violated a charter requirement for competitive bidding of the Melreese site.

Months earlier in July, attorney Douglas Muir alleged in a lawsuit that the city didn’t follow its competitive bidding rules for the referendum.

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