By Matthew Arrojas – Reporter, South Florida Business Journal
Nov 9, 2020, 12:42pm EST
Miami Wilds is closer to becoming a reality, as the Miami-Dade County Commission will review a proposal to award developers $13.5 million for the project.
This proposed development adjacent to Zoo Miami would include a hotel with at least 200 rooms, a water park, and between 15,000 and 25,000 square feet of retail space. The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee last reviewedthe 27.5-acre development in mid-September, and the county commission on Friday will consider awarding a $13.5 million grant through the county’s Economic Development Fund.
According to the agenda item for the county commission’s special meeting, developers would need to invest at least $99 million into Miami Wilds. Paul Lambert, a co-owner and developer of the project, said it’s expected to generate 1,500 construction and development jobs, as well as just over 600 recurring jobs after it is completed.
An agreement between the developer and the county dictates that the project would include the following components:
• Hotel: The Miami Wilds hotel must have at least 200 hotel rooms and suites, and must be at least three stories tall. It must also include a guests-only pool and a dedicated drop-off and valet area.
• Water park: The water park attraction would include a minimum of seven water slides and three kids’ attractions. The park must also have a lazy river occupying 20,000 square feet and a 40,000-square-foot wave pool. There must also be a food service and/or seating area that can accommodate up to 350 guests.
• Retail and restaurants: The retail and dining portion of Miami Wilds would be between 15,000 and 25,000 square feet, and the building or buildings could be up to two stories tall. A minimum of five retailers or restaurants must be included. Retailers are not allowed to sell Zoo Miami-branded merchandise.
Miami Wilds is to be constructed on land that currently includes the surface parking lot for Zoo Miami. The size of the project was scaled down to ease environmental concerns, according to the agenda item.
Lambert said the ownership group believes it will break ground on Miami Wilds in about 18 months. The attraction itself should be ready to open 18 months after that.
The ownership/development group also includes Michael Diaz of Miami-based Diaz, Reus & Targ LLP; Emmanuel Uche of Miami-based East Coast Development Enterprise; Eamon Smith of New York-based TCS Capital Management; and Andre Portela of Wet ‘n Wild, he said.
The water park is to be managed and operated by ProParks Attractions Group, Lambert said.