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Bayside wants to help Miami fight Raquel Regalado suit over SkyRise

@doug_hanks

Skyrisemiami

Bayside Markeplace is asking a judge to let it join the legal defense in a suit trying to block county funding of SkyRise Miami, the 1,000-foot observation tower set to go up on land that Bayside rents from the city.

The waterside shopping complex wants to be added as a defendant in the suit that county-mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado, and a top campaign donor, auto magnate Norman Braman, filed against both Miami-Dade and Miami, where her father serves as mayor. 

Regalado's opponent in the 2016 race, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, championed a $9 million county subsidy for SkyRise, a for-profit venture by developer Jeff Berkowitz. The funding request became public after Miami voters approved a referendum that described a "privately funded" observation tower on the Bayside property. 

Regalado's father, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, campaigned for the SkyRise referendum, but now has broken with Berkowitz, saying the county dollars violated the terms of the referendum. The lawsuit makes the same argument, and seeks to either revoke the county dollars or hold a second referendum. 

SkyRise itself was not named in the suit, and so far Berkowitz has stayed out of the legal fight. He's a top campaign contributor to Gimenez and members of the County Commission, which approved the property-tax allocation in December.

City and county lawyers sought to have the suit dismissed on grounds that Regalado and Braman don't have legal standing to challenge a ballot item approved by voters. They also note SkyRise's pursuit of public dollars was known to city officials before the referendum, and that any legal challenges should have happened in the run-up to the referendum process. 

Bayside serves as SkyRise's landlord, and argued it should participate in the suit to protect its interests. The SkyRise referendum also approved an extension of Bayside's lease with Miami. 

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