Will Biscayne Landing ‘Land’ in Swerdlow’s Hands Again?

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor While for the past months the Miami Herald has been reporting the city of Miami’s struggle to take back the bay-front site of Biscayne Landing, the original developer—Michael Swerdlow—has now come up with a proposal to [...]

While for the past months the Miami Herald has been reporting the city of Miami’s struggle to take back the bay-front site of Biscayne Landing, the original developer—Michael Swerdlow—has now come up with a proposal to buy back the project. The deal would bring the city $19 million in the first year alone.

Looking back at the initial 2002 plans, the Swerdlow Group envisioned a $1 billion mixed-use residential community situated on 190 acres in the heart of North Miami; the Biscayne Landing community was planned around a town center with nearly 2,250 apartments, a 35-acre park, a 100,000 square-foot shopping center and a five-acre hotel and conference center. The total number of condo units would have been around 5,000, and the amenities were to include clubhouses, pools and tennis courts. A local charter school was also to be developed.

But Biscayne Landing, one of the most ambitious urban redevelopment projects in South Florida’s history, was soon to be sold by Swerdlow to an affiliate of Deerfield Beach-based Boca Developers, that eventually defaulted on its loans, forcing the project into foreclosure and court-appointed receivership. During the years that followed, many developers have presented various plans for the site—including one for a 55-story solar-powered ski park—but the financing part remained the major concern.

Miami Garden-based developer William Green did come close to success with his plan which called for building up to one million square feet of big-box retail plus a great deal of office space, to which he would add a big resort and an assisted living facility for seniors. But on December 15 2010, the city council voted to reject Green’s latest offer, as he failed to meet the city’s resolution requiring he prove that he has access to at least $16.9 million and the resources to put down a $50,000 deposit for the city’s legal fees.

So far, the only part of the development to actually get built is the Oaks at Biscayne Landing towers—just a fraction of the residences proposed for the site—that the Boca Developers affiliate managed to finish before the real estate market and economy spiraled out of control, as the South Florida Business Journal kindly puts it. Swerdlow included the Oaks in its plan, as his representative, Miami attorney John Dellagloria reported that space would be granted to the condos towers as promised for a pool and a guardhouse.

Dellagoria also elaborated on the new Swerdlow proposal for Biscayne Landing, which is rather different from the initial plan. The new project consists of a hotel, a 600,000-to 700,000-square-foot shopping center, low-density residential and an adult living facility. As for the way in which the city would benefit financially from this proposal, Swerdlow offers the city up to $150,000 a month to manage the property until it is developed, on top of the $17.5 million paid up front and the $1.5 million in annual lease payments.