The Miami-Dade Aviation Department on Wednesday proposed a radical reconfiguration of Airport City, a controversial project that Odebrecht USA – a part of a Brazilian multinational conglomerate – wants to build on Miami International Airport property on the west side of Le Jeune Road.
Emilio González, the Aviation Department director, unveiled the revised project during a meeting of a county commission committee where an Odebrecht representative said he was disappointed but willing to collaborate with the county to develop the revised project.
The revision outlined by González’s staff would amount to a dramatic downsizing of the initial massive $512-million project that envisaged building on 33-acres of three MIA parcels a business park with restaurants, retail and office space, a high-end hotel with conference and convention facilities, convenience services such as dry cleaners, a pet hotel and a gas station.
Now, under the new proposal MIA would retain control of the biggest 24-acre parcel where Airport City would be developed and use it to further expand the airfield by building additional aircraft parking spaces and other aviation services.
González and other aviation department officials told commissioners at the meeting that MIA needs to modify the original project because it now wants the 24-acre parcel to meet anticipated growth of airport operations.
“Our recommendation is that Miami-Dade Aviation Department be allowed to keep those 24 acres which we hope to develop in aviation-related businesses,” González told El Nuevo Herald after the presentation. “If we were to start building hotels and office parks, we’d never get it back.”
Left unsaid was the expectation that the major modification could help the county defuse opposition to the project by some Cuban-American community leaders and politicians.