Jeffrey Berkowitz’s plan for the $430 million SkyRise Miami Tower may be in trouble as a lawsuit has been filed in an attempt to block public funding for the project. Miami-Dade County had agreed to a whopping $9 million subsidy for the project.
Billionaire auto dealer Norman Braman and Miami-Dade School Board Member Raquel Regalado are the people behind the lawsuit. The two claim that a referendum which was held over the project was misleading in that it led voters to believe that no public funds would be used for the tower.
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Last August voters approved the plan to lease city-owned space to Jeff Berkowitz’s development company, but the vote did not mention the $9 million in public funds. The plaintiffs say that the referendum referred to the tower only as a private project.
“It’s about transparency and accountability, ” Regalado, told the Miami Herald. “At the end of the day, the ballot language said no public money should be utilized. Then no public money should be utilized.”
“In this case, the ballot language specifically said that this was a privately-funded project. There was a campaign that emphasized that and then public funds were allocated by Miami-Dade County.”
For his part Berkowitz said “We made it very clear we weren’t asking the city of Miami to fund any portion of this project, and we’re not.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the local Channel 7 News that SkyRise Miami is privately funded saying, “The tower is going to be constructed with private money. This grant is for public infrastructure around the area. It not only benefits the tower but benefits the area.”
To be built on a plot of land behind Bayside Marketplace, the 1, 000 foot high tower is expected to be completed by 2018. The developers will now make a $10 million payment to Miami before the start of construction. General Growth Properties will also spend $27 million on improvements to the neighboring outdoor shopping center which it currently leases. Its lease there will also be extended.
The tower will feature a scary ride that will drop visitors quickly down its side. There will also be a 550 foot high bungee jump, a ballroom for social gatherings, a night club and a moving movie theatre.
It will offer people beautiful views of all of Miami and as far away as the Everglades.