Sale of 6 acres for downtown Miami mixed-use project falls through
By Paola Iuspa
Chances that the One Miami site contains Native American artifacts may curtail development of a large portion of the 9-acre project planned near the mouth of the Miami River, said City of Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton.
He said Tuesday a development group decided against buying the 6 acres between the Dupont Plaza building and the Hotel Inter-Continental Miami in part because they learned this week the site could contain relics from a Tequesta Indian settlement.
David Solomon, a principal with Park Tower Holding Co. of New York, confirmed his company's withdrawal from the deal but said it had to do with the sellers changing their minds, not archeological findings.
It was very disappointing, Mr. Solomon said.
Miami One Centre - a Palm Beach County group headed by Ned Siegel, Morris Stoltz II and Larry DeGeorge - owns the property, which is split into four parcels, some of which is used for parking. Mr. DeGeorge refused to comment Tuesday about the status of the sale.
The Related Group of Florida, headed by Jorge Perez, still expects to close a $20 million deal on the remaining 3 acres by the second quarter of this year, said Toni Albanese, Related's executive vice president. Mr. Perez said he plans to build a mixed-used project just south of the Inter-Continental.
Mr. Solomon said his firm, developer of mixed-use projects nationwide, wanted to build two residential towers, high-end shops, a theater, a museum and a park on the other three lots.
"At this time we are going to move on to another project in Miami," he said. "We are primarily focused on the Brickell corridor and downtown Miami. We have targeted Miami as an important city in the next 10 years for fundamental economic reasons."
Commissioner Winton said Tuesday that information from an archeologist about the possible presence of Native American artifacts could have a "significant impact" on any future development of the site.
Former county archeologist Bob Carr, executive director of the nonprofit Archeological & Historical Conservancy, said it is possible that Native American artifacts are buried on Miami One Centre's properties because of the proximity of other findings. The landowner would be required to do studies on the site, Mr. Carr said, before being allowed to build.
The neighborhood is known for archeological findings.
The Miami Circle, also thought to be part of a Tequesta settlement, is just across the river from One Miami. The circular formation was discovered in 1998 as the site was being prepared for development. The county has since purchased the 2.3 acres and plans to place it under federal parks protection.
Tequesta artifacts have also been found to the west on Hyatt Regency Miami property.
Mr. Albanese said his company did not find any Native American relics on the 3 acres that Related is in the process of buying.
"We did our exploration," he said. "We found there were a high amount of infill from when they dredged the river, but we did not find any archeological artifacts."