Agreement reached in Brickell Park dispute
By Suzy Valentine
Deceased members of the Brickell family can rest in peace now that some of their descendants are close to a deal with Related Group of Florida over preservation of one of the Brickell area's last remaining green spaces.
In the deal, made about 45 days ago, according to Related Vice President Bill Thompson, the family agreed to deed about 8,300 square feet of Brickell Park next to the Sheraton Brickell Bay hotel in exchange for 11,000 square feet of bayfront land behind the Sheraton belonging to Related.
It would end a lawsuit over preservation of the area filed more than 16 years ago.
Aside from its recreational value, the park has historical and archaeological connections. It houses a family mausoleum from which most of the bodies of the Brickells buried there have been removed and earlier formed with Miami Circle the site of a Tequesta Indian settlement.
"The parties got into the thicket, and it took some creativity to cut through the thicket," said attorney John Shubin of Shubin Bass, who is refining the agreement.
"Several years ago, a group of affected landowners and many of you in this organization retained our firm," he told members of the Brickell Area Association on Tuesday, "to look into the proposal whereby the Brickell family and the City of Miami would try to resolve litigation pending since 1988."
The substance of the agreement is that Brickell Park except the areas being exchanged between Related and the Brickell family will be transferred to the city with a covenant in perpetuity restricting use to a passive park. It can't be converted to a soccer or baseball field.
Mr. Thompson encouraged members of the Brickell Area Association at their meeting at the JW Marriott on Brickell Avenue to support the deal by a resolution. The association agreed to consider it privately once Related had sent the proposal. It next is scheduled to meet Feb. 8.
Mr. Thompson pledged that improvements to the park would include a review of lighting to make it more inviting to users. Oak trees from the Sheraton site would be uprooted and replanted in Brickell Park.
The hotel, which Related recently purchased for more than $100 million, would remain open for six months longer, he said, after which it would be demolished, making way for groundbreaking this fall or next spring.
Related - one of South Florida's most active high-rise residential developers - would be allowed to use more of the park space during construction but it would remain open, Mr. Thompson said.
A planning application would be submitted shortly, he said.
"That would be helpful in making all things come together," said Mr. Thompson.
The development would feature three towers - one of 45-48 stories, another of 52-55 stories and one of 55-57 stories.
A baywalk connecting the area to downtown is planned "to alleviate traffic congestion," Mr. Thompson said.
Addressing suggestions that one of the buildings might undergo a change of use to office space depending upon the market, Mr. Thompson said Related would have to look carefully at the logistics of providing more parking spaces.
But he said parking for residential use had been considered at the early planning stage and there would be adequate spaces for residents and park users.