MIAMI – Residents of Miami addressed City of Miami commissioners and the mayor Tuesday before a vote on key items that would move the development of the Miami Freedom Park project forward.
In perhaps the first show of unity as to the fate of proposed development of Miami Freedom Park atop the now standing Melreese Country Club, the Miami City Commissioners voted to postpone the vote again.
The next scheduled vote is set for sometime in December.
"I don’t know who is going to vote what we don’t know what the future holds," Mayor Francis Suarez said. "This process needs to be done the right way."
It’s the second consecutive City of Miami meeting in which commissioners postponed a critical vote that would move development forward and give Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami CF a permanent home.
Council members and Suarez sat attentively as residents approached the chamber lecterns to support or oppose the fledgling MLS franchise’s proposal to redevelop the current site of Melreese Country Club.
However, Miami voters already supported a November 2018 ballot measure that gave Inter Miami CF ownership group and the City of Miami the green light to negotiate a no-bid proposal for the development of the site.
The vote on the proposal submitted by Inter Miami CF ownership was expected on October 24, but a motion to postpone the vote was passed after Commissioner Manolo Reyes had to be excused for medical attention after falling down the stairs during a brief recess during the session.
Tuesday’s meeting was scheduled to pick up those agenda items, and as the proposal was discussed, questions mounted regarding the completeness of the proposal in its current form. Additionally, the economics of the development project submitted in the proposal are being reviewed by third parties.
Jorge Mas, a Miami businessman and part of the ownership group of the soccer franchise, addressed the council, reiterating the financial benefits of the deal, including his group privately financing the project development at no cost to Miami taxpayers.
Additionally, Miami Freedom Park will accrue $2.9 billion in tax revenue over the proposed 99-year lease, Mas said.
"When we commenced this last March or April (of 2017), which would make it 16 or 17 months now, this process has not precluded anyone from making a proposal to this commission or the City of Miami (for) different use of the land at Melreese," Mas added.
When it came time to vote, city commissioners voted to deny the proposal in its current form, and instead re-review the document that includes the property appraisal and economic multipliers in December.
Also of note was an agenda item on the schedule that, if passed Tuesday, would’ve reopened the land to an open bid process.
Instead, the commissioners decided to amend that agenda item and discuss it at a later date.
Inter Miami CF will play its first two seasons in Fort Lauderdale starting in 2020.