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For Immediate Release:
December 18, 2012

Media Contact:
Cindy Castelblanco

Laura Phillips

Miami-Dade County Poised to Develop a Landmark Multi-Attraction Destination in Southwest Miami

Local and national developers invited to negotiate a deal before April 30th deadline

(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- 
The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces Department, in partnership with the Zoological Society of Florida (ZSF), today announced an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), which it is extending to both private and public developers based locally and nationally, for the opportunity to create a multi-attraction entertainment destination on the grounds of Zoo Miami. 

The envisioned collection of various attractions, including Zoo Miami, has been dubbed the Zoo Miami Entertainment Area (ZMEA) and it is being vigorously pursued by Miami-Dade County with the primary goal of spurring economic development and job creation for residents. The project also has the additional objectives of expanding the visitor market, expanding the amount of area venues, extending visitor stay time, and increasing income to Zoo Miami. The ITN will be released today, December 18, 2012 under the title of "ITN Zoo Miami Entertainment Area", and will be due 120 days later on April 19, 2013. It will be listed at

"We are positioning ourselves as a dynamic global community that offers more reasons to visit and invest in Miami, and more incentives to live and do businesses here," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez.  "Diversifying our portfolio of cultural, recreational and educational offerings is critical to this ongoing effort, and this mixed-use approach to our parks will create a strong range of products for consumers and investors, alike."

The County desires a development that seamlessly weaves together existing County venues (Zoo Miami and Gold Coast Railroad Museum) with new complimentary and compatible development venues, all lying on or adjacent to Zoo Miami, and all managed and operated to provide the best financial and economic development return to the County. 

Proposed developments can be any combination of attractions, amusements, lodging/conference centers, food service/specialty themed retail and banquet halls that comply with project objectives and are in accordance with existing development approvals. 

"Miami-Dade County is on the move to become a place that people repeatedly want to visit and a place where people desire to permanently live," said Miami-Dade County District 9 Commissioner Dennis C. Moss.  "Jobs are the key to building a healthy and vibrant community and the generation of jobs for our residents is what makes this project especially appealing to me and the district I serve, and it is why I am championing it.  We have an opportunity to create our version of Universal Studios Orlando," he added.  Commissioner Moss chairs the Zoo Oversight Board that oversees Zoo Miami.

Through the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), Miami-Dade County invites qualified developers to independently, collectively or collaboratively negotiate the development of the Zoo Miami Entertainment Area (ZMEA) on approximately 400 acres.  The ITN is issued through the provisions of Florida Statute (FS) Section 125.045, which provides Counties with certain powers and duties to facilitate the growth and creation of business enterprises and allows greater flexibility in the methods of selecting entities to develop projects which provide for economic development.  This flexibility allows the County to issue a broad invitation, beyond the local scope of potential developers to also include national developers.

"This is a great opportunity to improve the quality of life in Miami, and it's the type of project that has the potential to serve as a catalyst for attracting other types of major investments into the County," said Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Director Jack Kardys.  "This ITN is an aggressive effort to find the best developer able to create a phenomenal-not average-entertainment zone that will become a renowned landmark-attraction.  We are looking for a design that will be unique to Miami, fun and exciting, but that will also pay dividends into the proverbial trust of this and future generations."

The final version of the ITN, shaped by input from national and local development interests during the Expression of Interest (EOI) phase, included a number of new provisions that are likely to improve the success of the project, which include:

1) Additional opportunities for attractions, including cultural facilities, within the ZMEA
2) Allows for alternative lease and ownership options of Coast Guard lands
3) Incentivizes linkages between development and marketing of Zoo Miami and
ZMEA proposal
4) Allows for developers to include provisions for limited public funding
5) Modifies the Evaluation Process to allow smaller minor developers to fairly  compete with larger master developers

Approximately 118 acres of the ZMEA are located on County land within Zoo Miami and Gold Coast Railroad Museum Park properties.  The remaining approximately 279 are located within the adjacent U.S. Coast Guard base, 39 acres of which are already owned by the County.  Proposals located on Coast Guard lands will require a relocation plan as part of their development proposal and will likely require assistance from the County to acquire suitable space to relocate administrative and communication functions.

The County seeks reasonable reimbursement and payments for the respective use of various parcels through Lease and License Agreements, preferably through a Master Agreement that will pay an initial rent, a guaranteed monthly rent, and a percentage rent for private use of public lands. 

All proposals will be evaluated based on their: 1) project approach; 2) experience and qualifications of its Development and Operations/Management Teams; 3) financial feasibility of the Project and financial capacity of the Proposer; 4) financial return to the County and the non-financial economic development impact; and 5) any linkages between the ZMEA and Zoo Miami plans that advance County initiatives.

Once proposals are submitted, the Board of County Commissioners must review and approve a final selection.  The selection would be followed by negotiations, which would transpire over several months.  Groundbreaking for the development is targeted to occur in 2015.

About Zoo Miami:
Discover what makes Zoo Miami a unique experience for visitors of all ages.  Rated one of the top ten zoos in the U.S. by, Zoo Miami houses more than 2,000 animals in natural habitats and provides visitors the feel of a safari. Enjoy animals like okapis, giant river otters, elephants and rhinos in large open air exhibits; a giraffe feeding station; camel rides; an Indian rhino encounter; Australian parrot feeding; meet and greets with new mascots, the Zoo Squad; tram tours; family cycles; water play areas; a monorail and large exhibits like Amazon and Beyond.

Zoo Miami is located at 12400 SW 152 St., Miami, FL 33177.  General Zoo Admission is: $15.95 plus tax, per adult and $11.95 plus tax, per child (3-12). Hours are 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; ticket booths close at 4:00 p.m.  Parking is free.  Annual pass holders and children under 2 are also free.  For more information, please visit or call (305) 251-0400.

About the Zoological Society of Florida (ZSF):
The Zoological Society of Florida is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that supports Zoo Miami through education, conservation and outreach programs; marketing and public relations; volunteer services and financial support for the construction of new exhibits.  Visit for additional details.

About the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces Department:
Nationally accredited, a three-time winner of the NRPA National Gold Medal Award and winner of the 2009 Florida Governor's Sterling Award for excellence in management and operations, Miami-Dade County Parks is the third largest county park system in the United States, consisting of 260 parks and 12,825 acres of land.  It is one of the most unique park and recreation systems in the world.  Made up of more than just playgrounds and athletic fields, it comprises out-of-school, sports-development, and summer-camp programs; programs for seniors and people with disabilities; educational nature centers and nature preserves; environmental restoration efforts; arts and culture programs and events; the renowned Zoo Miami and the Deering Estate at Cutler; the Crandon Tennis Center; the annual Sony Open tennis tournament; golf courses; beaches; marinas; campgrounds; pools; and more.  For information about Miami-Dade County Parks visit or call 3-1-1.

Miami-Dade County Parks is supported by The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade a non-profit 501(c)3 organization supporting the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department's efforts to further develop Miami-Dade County's world-class parks system for residents and visitors.  Its mission is to create a healthier, more livable and sustainable Miami community by ensuring the implementation of the Parks Open Space Master Plan and the development of year-round park and recreation programs for local children, adults and people with disabilities.  For more information on the Parks Foundation, please visit

To request material in accessible format, information on access for persons with disabilities, or sign language interpreter services (7 days in advance), call 305-755-7848.


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