As commissioners prepare to vote today on David Beckham’s plan to develop an office, retail, hotel and stadium complex at Melreese Park, here are some of the issues with the proposal:
- The city’s biggest park (or potential park) would be permanently lost
- It could cost the city a fortune in cleanup cost. The site is a former toxic waste dump, now only controlled to keep golfers safe (but not safe for development). An expert says cleanup cost could be “astronomical,” and the city would be liable for most of the cleanup under the terms proposed
- The site is at the end of Miami International Airport’s runway, a possible safety issue
- It will worsen already bad traffic near the airport, and no traffic study has been released
- The developer’s $20 million contribution to rebuild the remaining rump of a park wouldn’t be paid upfront. Instead, it would be paid over 30 years, giving it an actual net present value closer to $4 million, and the city would need to issue debt in the meantime to cover costs
Even if you are in favor of Beckham’s complex at Melreese, it still may be a mistake to “send it to the voters” today, as Beckham and his partners are demanding. It sounds very democratic, but the problem is that the details haven’t been ironed out yet.
By forcing a voter referendum now, the city loses almost all leverage when the details need to be negotiated, which could prove very costly to the city.
Update: The commission vote has been deferred until next week.