Miami Wilds Project committed to preserve Richmond Pinelands Natural Area and Wildlife
(MIAMI, January 16, 2015) - As preliminary plans continue to evolve for the proposed “Miami Wilds” project, Miami-Dade County and its private sector partners are working closely with key stakeholders, like the US Fish & Wildlife Service, to affirm both the pre-eminent importance and value of preserving the area’s environment and the strong commitment to follow the regulatory process diligently. This project is being planned for public land surrounding ZooMiami in South Miami Dade and is being led on the private side by Miami Wilds LLC, which will be responsible for construction, maintenance, operation and financing.
“Let me be absolutely clear, we are committed to the principles of conservation and protection of the environment. At the same time, we have an opportunity to take full advantage of all of the economic opportunities that this project will provide to this important part of our community and to our entire region,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. He continued, “We understand and share all of the concerns at hand and are working conscientiously as a team to ensure that preservation strategies are thoroughly vetted in these preliminary planning stages. Miami-Dade County has always sought to acquire, preserve and manage the various intact natural areas of the Richmond Pinelands complex that comprised the former Richmond Naval Air Station, the largest tract of pinelands outside of the Everglades National Park.”
The proposed Miami Wilds project offers the opportunity to both consolidate forest management and also provide the resources to put in place the infrastructure programs necessary to properly maintain the Richmond Pinelands for the benefit of the biological species that rely on them. “The goal of this effort is to create a unique model of environmental conservation practices that is economically sustainable and ecologically consistent with the latest federal guidelines, while at the same time creating new economic growth and opportunity,” said Miami-Dade County District 9 Commissioner Dennis C. Moss.
The Miami Wilds project which is proposed to include hotel and retail entertainment components, a Sony Music Theatre, theme and water parks with licensing arrangements with 20th Century Fox for branding and intellectual property, and an interpretative nature trail and electric vehicle transportation spine connecting all of the project elements to ZooMiami, the Gold Coast Railroad and Military Museums represents a $930 million investment in South Miami Dade that will bring an estimated 3,550,000 plus new visitors each year, with 1.5 million additional overnight visitors. The project is designed to complement ZooMiami by generating increased audiences and additional support for this major cultural attraction. It is anticipated that new infrastructure serving the project will include new Turnpike access and road improvements to mitigate impacts on local roads and in particular divert traffic from Coral Reef Drive (SW 152nd Street). The proposed project is projected to create over 2,750 new jobs in South Dade an area that historically has had the lowest wage rates in the county, and the project will be among the top three private sector employers south of Kendall Drive.
The planned Community Redevelopment Agency is being proposed to capture incremental tax revenue generated by the Miami Wilds project to help the County fund preservation and infrastructure needs.
The following principles are guiding Miami-Dade County’s involvement in this project:
• The County is taking a pro-active role in working closely with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to ensure that all federal requirements are met. Discussions to accomplish this already are underway.
• The County has assembled a team of professionals to lead this project and accomplish the mutually supportive goals of developing a great attraction and preserving, managing, providing broad access to scientists, and interpreting the entirety of Pine Rocklands throughout the Richmond Pineland complex. This team includes all of the Deputy Mayors and leadership from the County’s environmental resources management, planning, zoning and Parks staff.
• The Miami Wilds development is proposed to be located outside of any natural areas. Furthermore, the project is intended to be sensitive to biological populations whose migration or feeding patterns extend beyond natural areas. Revenue from the project will insure the necessary financial and personnel resources and infrastructure to allow for the proper maintenance of the surrounding natural areas, including exotic plant control, pine rocklands forest structure (including the Bartram Hairstreak Butterfly, Miami Tiger Beetle, the Bonneted Bat and others), fire management and monitoring.
These guiding principles are shared and strongly supported by the Miami Wilds team that is working closely with the County on these issues. There is an ongoing commitment to work with our many environmental partners to ensure that there is not only a sound conservation plan but also the long-term source of the necessary, additional financial resources to conduct proper management of these natural areas.
The County and its partners will keep the media, key stakeholders and the public informed as progress continues in the planning for this project.