()

With only token pushback and after taking the time to heap mounds of praise on the project, the Miami City Commission approved several street closures vital to the proposed Miami Worldcenter development just north of downtown Miami.

Miami World Center street crossing

The closures would allow the developer of the 750,000-square-foot mixed-use venture on 17 acres between I-395 and the Freedom Tower to move forward with construction. Groundbreaking is planned later this year.

Miami World Center Plaza

“This one’s an absolute no brainer,” City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said before offering a motion for the closures, which was approved by unanimous affirmation. Commissioner Frank Carollo was absent.

Miami World Center North plaza

While several area businesses and community activists previously complained at a meeting last month that the street closures amounted to a public land giveaway, opponents did not make a show of force at Thursday’s meeting, and their objections were drowned out in a display of support from other real estate players and city officials. The Miami Downtown Development Authority and several residents also spoke in favor of the project.

Miami World Center special event space

“Please let this happen,” said a man who identified himself as a resident of 900 Biscayne Blvd., which abuts the project.

Miami World Center site plan

The one voice opposing the closures that seemingly held any weight with city commissioners was that of developer Chateau Group, which unexpectedly sent attorney Leoncio de la Peña to ask the commission to delay approval until the traffic impact could be studied further.

Miami World Center

“This closure is not in the public interest, and there is no demonstration of that in the public record,” de la Peña said, arguing city bureaucrats had not properly considered the negative impact on traffic as well as access by first responders. Foreshadowing what could be a future confrontation, de la Peña said his client “reserved” any rights to oppose the closures even after they were approved by the city. “We believe our consent is necessary, and we object to the closures without our consent.”

The move by Chateau is a significant shift from the conditional support the company expressed at a meeting of a city planning advisory board that recommended the street closures last month. Niesen Kasdin, managing partner of law firm Akerman’s Miami office, represented the developer then and presented a letter noting the two companies had spoken about traffic issues.

But de la Peña told the Daily Business Review his client felt the information provided by the Miami Worldcenter management had been insufficient and—with a traffic study handed over in recent days—late.

“No one is looking at traffic,” de la Peña said.

Open Space

Ryan Bailine, a Greenberg Traurig land-use attorney who lobbied on behalf of Miami Worldcenter, disputed de la Peña’s statements, saying Chateau Group was given the traffic study before the city commissioners received it.

Bailine also struck out against those who claimed Miami Worldcenter was unfairly taking land out of the public trust via the street closures, noting the project was looking to turn most of those closed roads into semi-public pedestrian retail areas and the project would add more than 34,000 square feet of park space.

“What I think is a very powerful illustration of what we’re doing is we have these two public parks that we are designing and creating,” Bailine said.

Commissioners Sarnoff and Francis Suarez praised the transformative nature of the project at length. The only commissioner to take a somewhat skeptical view was Keon Hardemon, who asked the developer whether approval would lead to future requests for financial assistance from the community redevelopment agency. Still, Hardemon joined other commissioners in enthusiastically endorsing the concept for the project.

Asked what his next steps would be in pushing forward with the project, Miami Worldcenter managing director Nitin Motwani told the DBR his first priority would be to “finally get some sleep.”

The project is bounded by North Miami Avenue, Northeast Second Avenue, the Florida East Coast Railway tracks and Northeast 10th Street.

With only token pushback and after taking the time to heap mounds of praise on the project, the Miami City Commission approved several street closures vital to the proposed Miami Worldcenter development just north of downtown Miami.

Miami World Center street crossing

The closures would allow the developer of the 750,000-square-foot mixed-use venture on 17 acres between I-395 and the Freedom Tower to move forward with construction. Groundbreaking is planned later this year.

Miami World Center Plaza

“This one’s an absolute no brainer,” City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said before offering a motion for the closures, which was approved by unanimous affirmation. Commissioner Frank Carollo was absent.

Miami World Center North plaza

While several area businesses and community activists previously complained at a meeting last month that the street closures amounted to a public land giveaway, opponents did not make a show of force at Thursday’s meeting, and their objections were drowned out in a display of support from other real estate players and city officials. The Miami Downtown Development Authority and several residents also spoke in favor of the project.

Miami World Center special event space

“Please let this happen,” said a man who identified himself as a resident of 900 Biscayne Blvd., which abuts the project.

Miami World Center site plan

The one voice opposing the closures that seemingly held any weight with city commissioners was that of developer Chateau Group, which unexpectedly sent attorney Leoncio de la Peña to ask the commission to delay approval until the traffic impact could be studied further.

Miami World Center

“This closure is not in the public interest, and there is no demonstration of that in the public record,” de la Peña said, arguing city bureaucrats had not properly considered the negative impact on traffic as well as access by first responders. Foreshadowing what could be a future confrontation, de la Peña said his client “reserved” any rights to oppose the closures even after they were approved by the city. “We believe our consent is necessary, and we object to the closures without our consent.”

The move by Chateau is a significant shift from the conditional support the company expressed at a meeting of a city planning advisory board that recommended the street closures last month. Niesen Kasdin, managing partner of law firm Akerman’s Miami office, represented the developer then and presented a letter noting the two companies had spoken about traffic issues.

But de la Peña told the Daily Business Review his client felt the information provided by the Miami Worldcenter management had been insufficient and—with a traffic study handed over in recent days—late.

“No one is looking at traffic,” de la Peña said.

Open Space

Ryan Bailine, a Greenberg Traurig land-use attorney who lobbied on behalf of Miami Worldcenter, disputed de la Peña’s statements, saying Chateau Group was given the traffic study before the city commissioners received it.

Bailine also struck out against those who claimed Miami Worldcenter was unfairly taking land out of the public trust via the street closures, noting the project was looking to turn most of those closed roads into semi-public pedestrian retail areas and the project would add more than 34,000 square feet of park space.

“What I think is a very powerful illustration of what we’re doing is we have these two public parks that we are designing and creating,” Bailine said.

Commissioners Sarnoff and Francis Suarez praised the transformative nature of the project at length. The only commissioner to take a somewhat skeptical view was Keon Hardemon, who asked the developer whether approval would lead to future requests for financial assistance from the community redevelopment agency. Still, Hardemon joined other commissioners in enthusiastically endorsing the concept for the project.

Asked what his next steps would be in pushing forward with the project, Miami Worldcenter managing director Nitin Motwani told the DBR his first priority would be to “finally get some sleep.”

The project is bounded by North Miami Avenue, Northeast Second Avenue, the Florida East Coast Railway tracks and Northeast 10th Street.