Support The Crespogram
NUMBER 192 - DECEMBER 20, 2019
There are so many bad and questionable parts of this deal, that it's almost like the story about the folks with blindfolds who were put in a room with an elephant and asked to describe it.
Everybody touched a different part of the elephant, and everyone had a different description of what they thought they were touching. In this case, almost all of the people who've been exposed to this project so far have come away alarmed, angered, confused and unaware that there's a lot more to this beast than what they had an opportunity to see, hear or understand.
I do not exaggerate when I say that this could be the absolute worst deal to ever be proposed in the city of Miami.
I will do my best here to explain why I consider this deal to so bad, but I must admit that the only positive thing that might come of it - and I must say here that I do not believe that the odds are in favor of positive things occurring in Miami - is that the fight over this project could end up being a defining moment when people actually wake up from the self-induced stupor that has allowed so many scammers and schemers to turn Miami into a giant hustle driven by unscrupulous developers and crooked politicians.
What is being proposed is the construction of a 400 plus room hotel, with assorted shops that are part of these kinds of hotels, along with an 800 car garage and containing two 40,000 square feet museums; one a Cuban Exile Heritage Museum to celebrate the Cuban exile experience, including the Pedro Pan airlift, and the other an African-American Historial Museum, and all of this in a building specially designed to serve as the base for a 560 foot observation wheel.
All of this will sit atop the FEC Slip next to the AAA Arena, on pilings that will be driven into the water of the slip instead of filing in the slip, and building it on reclaimed land.
It is estimated that this will be a $400 million dollar project, and as was explained at the meeting I attended, and videotaped, the project is so far along that the "developer" claimed that they could start acquiring permits within the next 6 months.
THE FIRST PROBLEM
This project, like the Melreese Golf Course/Beckham Soccer Stadium deal is the result of what is known as an unsolicited proposal.
Unsolicited proposals are when somebody with an idea walks through the door at City Hall and tells folks inside they they got a great idea for what to do with a piece of city property, or something else that the city owns.
The law is very clear about what is supposed to happen in these situations, although as the Melreese Golf Course deal revealed, when vested interests with big money, do a private deal with Miami politicians in a back room, the law is the first thing that gets thrown out the door.
In any event, if this were an up-and-up deal, and the proposal was worth considering, the city would according to the City Charter, Sections 3(f)(iii), 29-Am and 29-B, issue an Request For Proposal (RFP), to see if anyone else has any ideas they'd like to propose for what to do with the space above the FEC Slip.
Putting aside all of the discussion and votes earlier this year when Commissioner Joe Carollo proposed filling in the FEC slip, and was voted down, this is a just a variation on Carollo's original scheme, because he is the principal elected official behind this deal.
This is a Joe Carollo Special!
He mentioned the 40,000 square foot Cuban Exile Museum several months ago at a commission meeting, and as I've repeatedly pointed out, if you want to know what Carollo's up to, just listen. Sooner or later he'll tell you.
So, issue number one is that there is a conflict between the provisions that require a project like this to be treated as an unsolicited proposal, and the steps that should be taken to issue an RFP, and the statement made at the meeting by the "developer," that they are so far along that they could start getting permits within the next 6 months.
THE SECOND PROBLEM
The people behind this project, the ones with the money and political clout, including the real "developer(s) obviously do not want to be identified, and consequently the presentations made to concerned citizens who live in the downtown condos and the 5 condo towers across the street from where this project would be built were staged events purposely conducted in a way to misdirect those in attendance from leaving with much in the way of factual information, including who is really behind this deal.
Here's why I say that.
It is normal when making these kinds of presentations for a developer who wants to solicit support from local residents, or even just to explain what they are up to, to start the meeting by providing a fancy slide show, or even a video presentation that lays out the project including all of the pluses and benefits of why this project would be so good for everyone, and then, and only then, would they entertain questions from the audience.
That didn't happen at the presentation I attended and videotaped - you can see the videotape below and see what I'm talking about - because instead of waiting until the presentation was over, it was announced that this presentation would allow for interruptions and questions from the audience from the very beginning.
What this means is that well before the presentation actually got to any hard information, or any architectural renderings that would, or could have provided a kind of visual overview of what some of the features that Haskal Mayer, an engineer and the person who identified himself as the developer started talking about, the questions from the people in attendance started coming in like artillery shells from the US Army zeroing in on a farm house where a handful of terrorists were supposed to be hiding out.
From an organized, in-depth presentation, the meeting quickly turned into a back and forth, and sometimes hostile debate.
I believe that this was allowed to occur, and that it was purposely done because whoever is actually behind this has been led to believe that they have the needed votes from the city commission to do this project, and that this dog and pony show is just a necessary, but unimportant to the actual success of getting approval from the City of Miami.
One of the specific reasons I believe this is that I asked Mayor whether after the meetings with the Mayor or the Commissioners he and whoever had been with him had left any documents with any of these people.
He responded that they had not, and then went on to try and justify that decision by claiming that because the process for how the observation wheel will work had been patented, they did not want to have any of that information out in the public.
I then followed up by asking if excluding any of those kinds of documents they had even left any architectural renderings, and he again replied that they had not.
I would argue that whoever coached Mayer and anyone who was with him not to leave documents behind did so because they knew that once those document were handed to the Mayor and the Commissioner they became public records, and consequently people who are that savvy, and want as few documents as possible to be available to the public are up to no good.
Furthermore, I suspect - and this is just the knowledge and experience gained from 11 years of dealing with the scammers and schemers at Miami City Hall - that the real money behind this deal is foreign money, and that the current trip by Commissioners Carollo AND Diaz de la Portilla to Paris has less to do with visiting the Eiffel Tower and the French Quarter, and a lot more to do with engaging in activities that violate the Florida Sunshine Law by having private meetings with deep pocket folks in foreign countries.
Whether it's for this project, or others, these two shinning examples of Pay For Play politics are up to no good, and this deal is definitely the kind of deal that people need to be leary of.
THE THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH PROBLEMS
Putting aside everything else, here are just some of the practical problems that I have come up with based on what little information has been revealed to date.
THE FEC SLIP PROBLEMS
It wasn't that many months ago that Carollo wanted to fill in the FEC Slip. Although this project was mentioned by name, it was clearly for this project that Carollo wanted the slip filled in.
At the time Carollo said that he thought the cost would be around $20 million,
In addition to the money problems, there are all kinds of problems with doing anything within the slip both because of the live coral on the seabed, and because of the sea-life that is found in the slip including manatees.
So, putting aside filling in the Slip, how much damage do you think would take place by driving in the concrete pilings needed to support a 33 story hotel, an 800 car parking garage, a 560 foot "Observation Wheel," and another 5.3 acres of a platform that would supposedly become, "park land?"
How long would the process be to acquire the federal, state, county and even city permits for this to occur?
THE ACCESS PROBLEM
One of the architectural renderings that was provided showed that the access to this project would come from creating a 5 LANE access road starting on Biscayne and 11th Street, and cutting south across the western edge of the existing park between the boulevard and the current parking lot at the park.
That rendering is out of scale and misleading, and again would requires permits from multiple agencies.
BOULEVARD TRAFFIC PROBLEMS
This is the most obvious and second most concerning issue to many folks living in the area, first because the current traffic problems are already a major concern because of the traffic problems generated by the AAA Arena, the Arsht Performing Arts Center and the PAMM and Frost Museums , and secondly because the DDA in its wisdom is now considering reducing the boulevard to a two lane road, instead of the 4 lane road that it currently is.
The additional traffic created by a 400 plus room hotel and the estimated 750,000 annual visitors to the "Observation Wheel" can only increase the grid-lock havoc in the area.
And, unbeknownst to just about everyone, a new 70 story hotel is supposedly going to be built several blocks north of this area, which I am assuming can only be built at 17th and Biscayne where the two empty city blocks now sit.
Put all of that together and you have what can only be described as a giant cluster fuck!
AND IT GETS WORSE
Compounding all of this is that that property is currently not zoned for a hotel or an "Observation Wheel." It's either a park or community space, but not commercial.
Then, if and when all of the above problems are successfully addressed, there is the problems of all the rich folks who own condos facing Biscayne Bay in the 5 condo towers directly across the street from where this project wants to build.
None of those people who chose to spend millions of dollars on their condos had any expectation, that their unobstructed views would end up being obstructed by a 560 "Observation Wheel" spinning around dau and right across from their balcony windows.
To say that some of them are going to be pissed, and pissed off rich people tend to not only get mad, they tend to spend the money required to get even!
It's obvious that the inclusion of the Cuban Heritage Museum and the African-American Museum are intended to sway the votes of the 3 Cubans and 1 Black member of the Miami City Commission.
This is the level of racist and ethnic political bullshit that has been going on in Miami for far too long, and this is why I believe that the real players behind this deal have gone out of their way to remain unidentified, and why the "developer" seemed so little concerned with trying to respond or rebut the questions and concerns of the residents of the downtown condos at this meeting, and at the previous meeting that was held week before last with the Downtown Residents Association.
They think that they've in like Flynn, and a major reason why they think that is because Joe Carollo has never passed up an opportunity to pander and exploit the older Cuban exile community, and neither has Alex Diax de la Portilla, Manolo Reyes and/or Mayor Francis Suarez.
The worst one however, is Joe Carollo, and behind all his bullshit about looking out for the residents and making sure that the city gets every red cent that they are entitled to from the property that is owned by the residents of Miami, he has repeatedly tried to bend them over and fuck them every which way but loose!
Beware Miami! Joe Carollo is on the lose, and he's not wearing a condom on this one!
It's Miami. Bitches!
HERE IS THE VIDEO OF THE MEETING HELD ON DECEMBER 19TH AT 1100 BISCAYNE BOULEVARD
Copyrighted: 2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
THIS IS AN ARTIST RENDERING OF A PROPOSED PROJECT NEXT TO THE AAA ARENA CALLED, "THE WAVE." IT COULD MAKE THE FIGHT OVER THE BECKHAM SOCCER DEAL LOOK LIKE A GAME OF PATTYCAKE AT THE KIDDIE PARK