SkyRise Miami, the 1,000 foot, $430 million observation tower tourist attraction, was approved by Miami voters in August 2014 but remains contentious largely because of public funding issues. At the time of the vote, developer Jeff Berkowitz assured citizens that the project would not use public funding, but then sought millions from the County in fall 2014. Berkowitz claims he promised that the City would pay nothing, not the County, and that public funding would be for surrounding infrastructure, not the tower itself, but that still entails a cost to area residents. Some also contend that SkyRise will not earn projected profits and may suffer from hurricanes or sea level rise, potentially leaving the City with a costly disaster. Still others reject the developer’s claim that Skyrise will be an iconic tower for Miami, similar to the Space Needle or the Eiffel Tower, calling it generic and disparagingly comparing the design to a hairpin or paperclip.
SkyRise Miami – related posts on uel.org
Miami Herald 6/16/15
Circuit Judge Samantha Ruiz-Cohen briskly granted the motion, making SkyRise Miami a defendant alongside Miami and Miami-Dade.
Ruiz-Cohen also granted a motion by SkyRise’s landlord, Bayside Marketplace, to become a defendant, too.
Miami Herald 6/5/15
“Under the current construction schedule (assuming no delays), the closure of the west bridge will adversely impact Art Basel and at least one-half of the entire winter season,” Levine wrote County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Friday. “Rather than use public dollars to subsidize private projects like ‘SkyRise Miami’ the taxpayers and I urge you to invest public dollars toward fixing our community’s critical infrastructure in an expedited manner.”
Miami Herald 6/2/15
Bayside Markeplace is asking a judge to let it join the legal defense in a suit trying to block county funding of SkyRise Miami, the 1,000-foot observation tower set to go up on land that Bayside rents from the city.
Miami Herald 5/15/15
A lawsuit seeking to block public funding for the SkyRise Miami observation tower cleared a legal hurdle Friday, with a judge ruling that plaintiffs Raquel Regalado and Norman Braman are free to pursue the litigation.
Circuit Judge Samantha Ruiz-Cohen rejected motions by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to dismiss the case on the grounds that Regalado, a school board member, and Braman, an auto dealer, had no authority to challenge the 2014 referendum that gave the go-ahead to the 1,000-foot tower set to rise above the Miami waterfront.
NBC Miami 4/22/15
The city and county are being sued by Raquel Regalado — the 40-year-old daughter of the Miami mayor — and billionaire car dealer Norman Braman, a Miami resident and former owner of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
Why? Because developer Jeffrey Berkowitz is seeking $9 million from an existing county economic development fund to pay for infrastructure improvements, such as streets, marina upgrades and so forth. Regalado and Braman claim in their lawsuit that the county funds would violate the no-public-money promise made to Miami voters — who approved the project with 68 percent in favor.
Miami Herald 2/5/15
Filed in Miami-Dade circuit court, the suit lists Braman and Regalado as plaintiffs against Miami and Miami-Dade County. It rests on the ballot language used in an August 2014 referendum in Miami that gave developer Jeff Berkowitz permission to lease city waterfront for the 1,000-foot-tall tourist attraction. The ballot item described SkyRise as a “privately funded” venture, and the lawsuit claims the $9 million subsidy package Berkowitz secured from the county after the election violated a condition of the city referendum.
The suit filed Thursday is thick with political story lines…
Miami Herald 12/18/14
Miami-Dade commissioners backed tapping new property taxes to borrow $9 million for SkyRise Miami… Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado objected, saying he had pledged to city voters that no tax dollars would go to SkyRise when he championed it in a referendum over the summer.
Miami Herald 10/22/14
Developer Jeff Berkowitz’s quest for tax-backed funds plunged his project last week into a sticky political web. The imbroglio — centered around a summer campaign that emphasized the lack of public funding for the tower — has pitted politician against politician, and Berkowitz against Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who has gone from campaign spokesman to outspoken critic.
Florida Watchdog 9/9/14
Voters say a skyscraper at the downtown Bayside Marketplace is a good idea, but some question whether voters actually knew what they were approving.
Biscayne Times 8/14
Assuming that 3.2 million people will visit SkyRise, the project will do quite well and show a considerable profit.
But if the number of visitors is more in line with established landmarks around the world, at a maximum of 10 percent of combined visitor/resident populations, Mr. Berkowitz will be in dire straits.
Extrapolating from his own projections, he must have 6677 visitors per day — just to break even.
Now those 6677 visitors x $31.25 per visitor = $208,656.25 gross income per day, or approximately equal to his projected expenses of $208,667.82 per day.
But if actual visits are more in line with established landmarks around the world (adjusted by available population/visitor totals), then the project will be bankrupt almost immediately after it opens.
Miami New Times 6/12/14
Developer Jeff Berkowitz’s 1,000-foot tall paperclip, the SkyRise Miami tower, could be on a ballot for city voters as early as August.
Huffington Post 11/20/13
A local developer just may build the craziest-looking observation tower of them all, a an open-sided, bobby pin-shaped spire called “SkyRise Miami” that features open sides, a nightclub, event space, amphitheater, restaurant, flight simulator, bungee jump, and a ride with a 50-story “high-speed” drop.
The $300-$400 million SkyRise will be the tallest building in Miami at 1,000 feet if developer Jeff Berkowitz secures investors to build it on a tiny sliver of land behind Downtown’s Bayside development.