Voters in Miami may yet get the chance to weigh in on an US$80m marina redevelopment contract after a hearing officer dismissed a bid protest and upheld the selection of a developer and operator by Miami’s city manager.
Outgoing Mayor Tomás Regalado now plans to call for a special meeting of the City Commission to try and win approval for a sweeping redevelopment plan to turn the Rickenbacker and Marine Stadium marinas into an island destination on Virginia Key before an 8 September deadline to get the measure. The Commission is on August recess.
A proposal to award a long-term lease and development plan to RCI Group was shot down by commissioners last year amid allegations from the losing bidders and criticism from activists concerned with the scope of development according to the Miami Herald.
On the second go-round, last year’s second-place bidder Suntex Marinas joined with RCI Group to form Virginia Key LLC, a team that was selected in June by an evaluation committee as the top-ranked proposer.
Runner-up Biscayne Marine Partners, a team that includes the current operator of the Rickenbacker Marina, protested on the grounds that RCI and Suntex had submitted flawed financial figures and disqualified themselves by including county-owned property removed from the redevelopment site at the 11th hour.
But a hearing officer dismissed the protest on the weekend and Biscayne Marine Partners would need to file an appeal with the 11th Judicial Circuit in order to challenge the ruling.
Three of the five-member City Commission will need to approve the contract in a special meeting to place the measure on a November ballot for tax payer approval.
The marina redevelopment is part of a larger plan to overhaul the north side of the Rickenbacker Causeway, where the city hopes to pay much of the debt on a $45m renovation of the historic Marine Stadium with money coming in from the surrounding properties. Virginia Key LLC estimated that the city would reap $60m in profits from its project within the first 15 years.