Mark Siffin's much debated dream to bring two 40-story billboards to downtown Miami appears to be in serious jeopardy this morning as McClatchy -- the parent company of the Miami Herald -- announced that a $190 million deal to sell ten acres of downtown land to the developer has fallen through. As we reported in an investigative piece last year, if the City Square project does fall apart, it won't be the first time Siffin's giant billboard dreams have been dashed.
Siffin's agreement to buy McClatchy's land next to the Adrienne Arsht Center stipulated that the deal had to be finalized by Jan. 31. That didn't happen, so McClatchy killed the deal this morning.
The company still gets a $7 million termination fee from Siffin and will keep $16.5 million in nonrefundable deposits he'd placed on the land.
"While we would have preferred to close the transaction on the terms under the purchase agreement, we retain a valuable parcel of 10 acres in an attractive area," says Pat Talamantes, McClatchy's CFO and vice president.
Siffin has raised eyebrows and hackles from the start with his City Square project.
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When he won approval from the city commission last summer to top his parking garage and retail complex next to the Arsht Center with massive "electronic signboards," some in the community questioned how they would affect living conditions in nearby condo towers. Others argued that the signs would violate local, state and federal laws.
Siffin always countered that the signs were legal and would add light to a still developing area. City Square would be the final piece to neighborhood revitalization, he said, by adding desperately needed parking for nearby concerts and restaurants and bars to frequent after shows.
It's not clear what's next for the developer, who has a home on Dilido Island. Riptide sent him an email about McClatchy terminating the land deal. We'll update if we hear back.