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A video tour of PortMiami's soccer-free development plan

 

@doug_hanks

UPDATED at 10:42 a.m. with a response from PortMiami. 

PortMiami's own development plan for the southwest corner hasn't been easy to see.

The port and World Trade Center Miami, a non-profit that port director Bill Johnson chairs, hired Miami architect Chad Oppenheim last year to create a master plan for the same land that David Beckham wants for a soccer stadium.

The growth strategy calls for a 7-million-square-foot World Trade Center Miami complex, with enough office space to fill about six commercial high-rises downtown.

Downtown Miami's commercial real estate industry, already complaining about the port's development designs creating competition in a glutted office market, howled at the proposal once word of it began making the rounds. 

Port executives cautioned against putting too much stock in the Oppenheim study, saying it was just to show the site's potential as PortMiami launched a global search for developers to make their own proposals. 

That search apparently began in January, when port director Bill Johnson toured Asia with a presentation based on Oppenheim's soccer-free plan.  You can see the PowerPoint touting Oppenheim's vision by clicking here.

Oppenheim finalized the plan late last year as Beckham was revving up his try for a port stadium site.  The report wasn't publicly released, but the Miami Herald obtained Oppenheim's study in a public-records request last month.

Port emails released at the same time showed Johnson had planned to unveil the Oppeneheim vision at his Feb. 12 State of the Port address, a well-attended World Trade Center Miami luncheon. But the introduction to the video was dropped from a draft of Johnson's remarks sometime after Johnson had scheduled a meeting with his boss, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, to review the speech.

The audience of about 1,000 people, including Gimenez at the head table, never saw the video or its dramatic looks of the proposed 60-story tower looming over the port's southwest corner. 

UPDATE: On Friday morning, PortMiami spokeswoman Paula Musto called to clarify this blog post. Musto said County Hall did not object to showing the video during the State of the Ports event, and that she and Johnson decided to edit out that part of the presentation.

"It was my idea to pull it,'' Musto said. "One of the reasons was length."

But Musto also said the content of the video was a factor, given the ongoing soccer talks.

"It was no longer germane,'' she said of the video. "Things were evolving."

Internal emails from February show Musto sent Johnson the draft conclusion five days  before the planned speech, and the passage included an introduction of the above video. The draft read: 

These rendering represent a look at what might be possible—and there is more… as you know,  there we are looking at a proposal for a soccer stadium on-port for the new Major League Soccer team that David Beckham is bringing to Miami. 

 

The draft portion was included in a Friday, Feb. 7, email from Musto to Johnson: 

Bill,

As discussed, you want to run the conclusion of your presentation past the mayor on Monday—

Paula

In an email sent Friday morning that Musto passed on to Naked Politics, Johnson said Jack Osterholt, a Gimenez deputy, ended up taking the pre-speech meeting mentioned in the internal emails. 

"Never met or spoke w/ Gimenez re my speech. He made no edits. Period," Johnson wrote Friday. "I showed Jack my remarks. He made no edits. Period. The decision to not get into SW corner details was mine."

Miami-Dade posted the video on the county's YouTube channel on Dec. 23. (We've embedded it above, or you can view it by clicking here.) Musto said Friday the video was intended to remain private until she provided a link as part of the Herald's public-records request. 

Not many people have seen it, with only 63 72 views recorded at this writing. But there's probably a decent chance a certain retired athlete will be interested in taking a look. 

To read our full report on the Asia trip, and Royal Caribbean's newly announced opposition to the soccer stadium, click here. The rendering of the project comes from the video. 

 

 

 

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Rick Eyerdam

Check out the latest on Miamitomorrowmagazine.com
and see how the World Trade Center plans were actually easy to see, two years ago, if anyone but us actually was paying attention or willing to discuss the matter.

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