As he seeks millions in subsidies from the county, the developer of SkyRise Miami has come under fire for campaigning on a promise that the project would be privately funded.
But an April 8 letter to the city shows the developer of the 1,000-foot tower on Biscayne Bay did say he was seeking $10 million to $20 million in public funds, and had applied for a county grant.
An attachment to the letter from developer Jeff Berkowitz, released Tuesday by SkyRise lobbyist Brian May, states:
“The developer is seeking government assistance and/or grants to pay for a portion of the public infrastructure for the Tower, such as the construction of parking garages, extension of a bay walk, public plaza areas, road works and improvements to the adjacent marina. The developer has applied for various grants from Miami-Dade County, Florida and the state of Florida.”
Berkowitz expected to receive the money by the month of May, which didn’t happen. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a $2 million commitment by the Florida legislature. And Berkowitz’s application for a $15 million grant from the county was put on hold until after the August referendum.
The county application resurfaced last week, leading Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado -- who told voters in a SkyRise radio spot that “taxpayers win without putting in a cent” -- to call on the county to reject the application for voter-backed economic development funds.
Berkowitz maintains that the SkyRise campaign pledged only that the city of Miami wouldn’t spend public money on the project, and that the county money he seeks will be invested into public infrastructure. He says Regalado is off-base.
But Regalado on Tuesday said he didn’t see the letter, and was never informed about any push for public money beyond the unsuccessful effort at the state.
“I never saw the letter and had I seen it I would not have campaigned in the way I did. It was always represented to me there would be no public money,” he said. “I still hope the county shuts down that project” application.