Watson Island development inches forward with Parrot Jungle loan
redevelopment of Watson Island, a land-use jigsaw puzzle undertaken
by the City of Miami, has taken one step forward with completion of
$47 million in financing for a new Parrot Jungle site.
proposed for Watson Island include Parrot Jungle, a visitor center
and aviation facility, two cruise terminals, a hotel or other private
development and a mega-yacht marina.
last piece of the $47 million financing puzzle to build a new Parrot
Jungle was a $25 million loan from the US Department of Housing &
Urban Development, said Eric Eimstad, director of marketing for Parrot
bonds, he said, have just been issued and the money entrusted to Miami-Dade
County, which is administering the loan to finance Parrot Jungle construction.
Parrot Jungle financing also includes traditional bank loans, equity
and sponsorships, Mr. Eimstad said.
Jungle officially is to take control of the city-owned land by early
August, with groundbreaking in the fall, he said.
attraction is leasing 16.5 acres of upland and 2.5 acres of bay bottom
on Watson Island. Mr. Eimstad said the park will remain at its current
Pinecrest location until the new facility is completed in summer 2002.
Parrot Jungle has cleared final hurdles to begin construction, Miami
officials say other plans for Watson Island await the outcome of negotiations
regarding the Port of Miami's bid to build two cruise terminals on
for a $7.5 million visitor center and aviation facility on 5.6 acres
on the island are on hold until port negotiations conclude, said Erdal
Donmez, city director of real estate and economic development.
said surveys are needed to determine the exact location of the two
proposed cruise ship terminals on six acres. The location of the visitor
center could shift depending on the orientation of the terminals,
port project will determine the exact location of the aviation facility,"
Mr. Donmez said.
Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors
Bureau, said his organization is concerned about the delay. Changes
in city management have required that port and county negotiators
review the status of talks with Miami's new city manager, he said.
Now, Mr. Donmez, the project manager, is leaving the city for an assistant
city manager job in Coral Springs.
visitors bureau has renewed the lease for its current offices at 701
Brickell Ave. for four more years.
are concerned about the continuing delays," Mr. Talbert said.
"Construction should have started a long time ago. It's the right
project in the right place."
Talbert said the visitors center design already has won awards. "It
needs to happen or we'll go someplace else."
visitors bureau is contributing $3.3 million, half the estimated cost
to build the Watson Island aviation facility, which is to include
Chalk's airline terminal and a heliport. Bureau funding is matched
by aviation funds from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Kuryla, a spokesman for the Port of Miami, said there are no recent
developments in talks with the city.
are waiting," he said, "for the city to continue negotiations."
Donmez said the city received a counter-offer from the port in April.
He said the city is reviewing the details and within a few weeks will
submit the project to city commissioners for discussion.
Donmez said negotiations with the port are about 98% complete. Under
current terms, the port would pay $1.1 million in annual rent to the
city for each of two terminals.
into the base rent are pilot payments that would replace property
taxes on the two tax-exempt terminals. Each terminal would occupy
three acres. Once the terminals reach 75% occupancy or more than four
ships a week, the city would collect 15% of gross revenues from the
port, he said.
the deal city officials have agreed to build a parking garage to serve
cruise terminals, visitors center and overflow parking for Parrot
garage would generate more than $500,000 annually for the city, Mr.
has gone very, very slowly as far as I'm concerned," said Miami
Commissioner Johnny Winton. "But there does seem to be some renewed
time to finish up whatever our real plan is for Watson Island,"
Mr. Winton said. "I'm hoping that this year we see some real
the city and port complete negotiations, Mr. Donmez said, city officials
plan to request proposals on the 12 acres remaining on Watson Island.
will be asked to submit plans for hotels or other commercial projects
envisioned for the site.
officials also want to build a mega-yacht marina on Watson Island.
that Parrot Jungle is settled," Mr. Winton said, "it's time
to get focused on the other component pieces to the puzzle and get