Hopes for Hollo Park on Brickell's bayfront are out with the tide
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Plans to build a temporary park on Brickell's last prime bayfront parcel are all but dead.
The license agreement for the project was withdrawn during last week's Miami commission meeting, marking a major setback in the quest for parks in the Brickell corridor.
Developer Tibor Hollo, chairman and president of Florida East Coast Realty, and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff announced in December the two had reached a deal for the developer to lease the 2 acres at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive to the city for three years for $1 a year. Mr. Hollo planned a luxury hotel and condo development there but wanted to wait for a market rebound.
Mr. Sarnoff said the developer caused plans to fall apart by bringing in an element that wasn't part of original discussions.
"They wanted to have substantial change made to the MUSP (major use special permit)," he said, adding he didn't know what the exact change was.
Miami requires major use special permits for large-scale developments. The city was to grant Mr. Hollo an extension to his permit in exchange for use of the land.
Mr. Hollo denied the park project was halted because he requested a permit change. He added he still plans to develop a luxury hotel and condos there.
He said the delays were caused by "the city's legal department" and that his intentions were to ensure the license agreement's language guarantees that the land returns to his ownership.
"We want to make sure that the parcel cannot be taken from us because we've given it to the city for nothing," he said.
City Attorney Julie Bru said some issues surfaced that weren't part of the original agreement between the parties but said she couldn't give further details.
The initial agreement for Villa Magna Park called for the city to build a passive park with a dog park and a children's play area.
Mr. Hollo would build pathways and install benches and the city would pay for landscaping and fencing.
The developer would pay all ad valorem property taxes on the site during the lease, but the city would cover liability insurance and incur costs of any park-related lawsuits.
Ms. Bru insisted her department wasn't responsible for delay.
"I do not believe there is anything my department is waiting on for further action on my behalf."
She said Mr. Hollo's legal team is still reviewing lease documents and could propose further action.
Mr. Hollo said he's not calling off plans for the park, adding he just wants to protect his property.
"We are willing to do this as long as the (city's) legal department is willing to protect us," he said.
But Mr. Sarnoff said negotiations are over.
He was excited about the prospect of giving Brickell a bayfront park, he said, but under the current situation it's better to part ways with the developer.
Villa Magna Park was to be the first park built under Mr. Sarnoff's green spaces program, an effort to turn empty lots into parks through voluntary agreements with property owners.
But he said he's talking with other developers.
Mr. Sarnoff said he planned to meet with his staff Tuesday afternoon to define a "more definite program" to "avoid setbacks" such as this.