Mayor Tomás Regalado and his chief administrator are pushing forward a $100 million marina expansion and redevelopment on Virginia Key despite mounting pressure to change course.
Last month, City Manager Daniel Alfonso picked a team led by Miami Beach Marina operator RCI Group to pursue a 75-year lease and contract to redesign two city marinas off the Rickenbacker Causeway. Alfonso hopes to take the project — which includes the construction of a robotic boat storage garage, a new restaurant complex and expanded wet slips — to Miami voters this fall.
But first, he must convince city commissioners Thursday to reject protests filed by two losing bidders who alleged a series of flaws and oversights in the city’s protracted solicitation and developer selection. The city’s real-estate director dismissed complaints by Tifón and Suntex in a memo dated Monday and recommended that commissioners allow administrators to negotiate a lease with RCI Group.
But already, a new allegation has surfaced that RCI should have been disqualified due to its role in a sewage spill that in 2000 forced the closure of a large swath of Biscayne Bay and resulted in a $2.5 million settlement with the county. And on Tuesday evening, a new city board created to monitor all things Virginia Key recommended that the city commission reject a city-driven plan to expand the marina into the historic Marine Stadium Basin — a proposal that, if embraced by commissioners, would drastically alter the design and likely the financing of any expansion plan.
Members of the committee argued that placing a large grid of docks and slips in the basin would violate a community-vetted master plan for Virginia Key, although they were told that it is too late to change the proposers’ designs.
“You wouldn’t be able to change it at this point and time,” assistant city attorney Pablo Velez tried to explain.