Jackson Health, University of Miami projects in running for stimulus funds
By Zachary S. Fagenson
All of Jackson Health System's administrative staff could be based in the health district if county commissioners choose to issue a $60 million stimulus bond to Miami developer the Swerdlow Group.
Commissioners, however, will have to weigh the project against at least one other to decide which will receive the bond money.
CEO Michael Swerdlow appeared before the county's Industrial Development Authority Tuesday afternoon to pitch the $160 million Civica Towers project in hopes of acquiring a $60 million tax-exempt recovery zone facility bond to help finance the project.
The bond, created under President Obama's stimulus package, is a tax-exempt private activity bond used in designated recovery zones to finance capital projects.
"This is a way in which Jackson Memorial Hospital can consolidate its far-flung administrative staff," Mr. Swerdlow told members of the authority's board. The project "is designed first and foremost to reduce [the hospital's] costs."
Some of its staff, he pointed out, are now in the jewelry district in downtown Miami.
The 25-story, 578,000-square-foot building is to rise at 1050 NW 14th St. The site is owned by Miami Hotel Investments Ltd. and late last year was slated to be developed into the Civica Medical Center that would have included medical and traditional office space as well as retail.
Since then, Mr. Swerdlow said his company has re-filed and received approval on a major use special permit for his project, which would include 21,000 square feet of retail space as well as more than 500,000 square feet of medical space, of which more than half would be for the Jackson Health System.
The rest, he added, would consist of class-A medical office space available to doctors from the University of Miami or those in private practice.
Financing for the 22 months of construction, however, is still being worked out. Along with the $60 million bond, Mr. Swerdlow applied for a $40 million taxable recovery zone economic development facility bond. The $100 million, according to a report presented to the authority, would be combined with $40 million from a to-be-determined financing structure from Wells Fargo and $20 million in equity from the Swerdlow Group.
While commercial financing from Wells Fargo isn't yet in place, a representative of the bank who attended Tuesday's meeting said it's "committed to finding a financing structure to help the project move forward."
And even though the project is predicted to create 375 construction jobs and 30 permanent jobs, the authority's nod of approval of the project was only a first step.
Jackson's proposed new building will compete for funding with the first of the buildings in the University of Miami's life sciences park.
Wexford Miami LLC, a subsidiary of Maryland-based developers Wexford Equities LLC, was chosen by the university to develop the first of the park's buildings. Each of the six research-and-development buildings is to house laboratories, offices and retail space.
And representatives of Wexford went before the authority Sept. 22 to seek the authority's approval on the same $60 million bond the Swerdlow Group hopes will fund its project.
The county commission, however, will decide the fate of the one bond in December or January, according authority Executive Director James Wagner, and may decide to issue it wholly to one developer or split it amongst the competing projects.
But Mr. Swerdlow seemed confident that his project's selling point is the opportunity it presents Jackson Health System and, by extension, Miami-Dade County.
"If [the building] works out the way it's supposed to," he said, "it will reduce [Jackson Health System's] rent to zero."