October 31st, 2015 5:04 PM by Nour Ailan
Miami Innovation Tower is officially on life support.
Thursday, the Miami City Commission ratified an initial June vote
adopting an ordinance that eliminates so-called “media towers” on the
site proposed for the 633-foot high-rise featuring five large LED signs.
The measure, championed by Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, deletes the term
“media towers” from the city’s zoning code known as Miami 21.
an attorney for Michael Simkins, the Miami Beach-based developer of the
innovation tower, told commissioners that his client plans to move
forward with pending permit applications to build the project.
will continue to implement this development irrespective of what is
done today,” said Tony Recio, a partner with Weiss Serota Helfman Cole
& Bierman. “We look forward to having the permits fairly reviewed
In a statement to The Real Deal, Simkins said he does not believe the new ordinance can be applied to his project.
are disappointed by the commission’s action,” Simkins said. “But we
expect the city to comply with the law and respect our rights by
honoring the sign permit applications and media tower approval by the
CRA, and processing the sign applications in good faith.”
commissioners Frank Carrollo, Willy Gort and Marc Sarnoff again voted in
favor of the ordinance despite an impassioned plea from Commissioner
Keon Hardemon, who was the innovation tower’s main supporter because he
believes the project will generate jobs and millions of dollars in
revenue for Overtown.
“That one time things are moving forward in a
community that has been stagnant for such a long time, we make sure we
put the roadblock right in the middle of it,” Hardemon said. “This is a
slap in the face of the Overtown community.”
Simkins has touted
the tower as the anchor to a 10-acre technology district that will help
revitalize one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Hardemon, who
represents the district and who is chairman of the Southeast
Overtown/Park West Community Development Agency, backs the project
because Simkins has agreed to pay the semi-autonomous city agency $5
million prior to construction, and $1 million, or 3 percent of gross sales generated by the project every year after completion.
also said Simkins has committed to giving local preference to Overtown
residents on construction jobs and for the operation of the innovation
In June, prior to the city commission’s first vote,
Simkins’ company Innovate applied for permits to embed the LED signs
within the skin of the proposed tower’s twisting façade and along its