Forget about Miami having one of the country’s tallest observation decks any time soon.
SkyRise Miami, a 1,000-foot-tall vertical amusement park planned for downtown near Bayfront Park, survived a decade of legal challenges, political opposition and rising construction costs. But the pandemic finally felled the innovative and controversial project, said developer Jeffrey Berkowitz.
“We moved heaven and earth during almost 10 years of challenges, obstacles, and adversity,” Berkowitz wrote in a statement to the Herald. “Despite everything we have endured and overcome, it is clear that given the unprecedented challenges presented by Covid-19 to the tourism, hospitality, and entertainment industries, I have no alternative but to cease construction and to abandon our efforts to build this project.”
Despite having started construction in 2019, his Berkowitz Development Group closed down the $430 million project last year amid the financial upheaval caused by COVID-19. The news was first reported by NextMiami.
Ironically, Berkowitz and Arquitectonica principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia obtained a patent for the innovative design just before the onset of the pandemic.
SkyRise Miami would have reached slightly higher than the Eiffel Tower, but about 400 feet lower than the tallest U.S. observation deck, the Willis Tower, in Chicago.
The soaring paperclip-shaped tower behind Bayside Marketplace was set to include a bungee jump, nightclub, restaurants and several observation decks. A sports and entertainment company owned by the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys would have managed the building once completed.
“It was an enormously challenging and ambitious project, particularly for an individual,” wrote Berkowitz. “We, as a team, have spent thousands of hours planning and designing the overall SkyRise experience with some of the world’s top designers, attraction manufacturers, architects and experiential “imagineers” doing our best to make it epic, unique, successful and the symbol of the new Miami.The City of Miami has changed dramatically since its genesis and the rising prices along with new sprawling skyscrapers are the evidence.
“I started demolition of the site and constructed a brand-new pier, with upgraded utilities, for the City of Miami’s MiaMarina, something that will continue to benefit our community for years to come,” he wrote. “I have spent very substantial sums in pursuit of this iconic project. I have not, nor will I, draw upon the millions of dollars of commitments made by some of Miami’s most respected community leaders, who shared my vision and were willing to co-invest in the project.”Berkowitz first proposed SkyRise in 2013, receiving approval the next year to build the tower on city land. The project subsequently faced a handful of legal challenges, including one spurred by a request for a $9 million subsidy from the county that initially was approved but later blocked after a legal challenge.
SkyRise struggled to secure sufficient financing.
“The project was abandoned in 2020, when it became obvious that the search for financing was futile,” Berkowitz wrote to the Miami Herald. “In 2021, we have been focused on our continuing obligation to plan, permit and restore the site to its original condition as a parking lot.”
Berkowitz established his development firm in 1985, after years of practicing as a real estate lawyer. His retail developments include Kendall Village Center, Dadeland Station and Fifth & Alton.
Source: Miami Herald