When Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado pitched voters this summer on developer Jeff Berkowitz's eye-opening plan to erect a gigantic paperclip on the bayfront, he repeatedly made a simple promise in ads: "Taxpayers win without putting in a cent."
It remains to be seen if anyone will win with the massive SkyRise Tower, but taxpayers will almost definitely be putting more than a cent into the project. They'll be paying out $9 million in subsidies, in fact, under an agreement that received initial approval yesterday.
To be fair, the promises of a completely privately funded project came from Regalado, the city mayor, who teamed up with Berkowitz for a series of Spanish-language ads a few weeks before voters considered the SkyRise referendum this summer.
The ads, which were also notable for never mentioning SkyRise by name, pitched voters on "an important question: [whether to] improve the Bayside mall with private funds and [to] construct a new building."
Audio: Friends of Bayside Radio Ad
Yesterday, it was County Mayor Carlos Gimenez -- not Regalado -- who shepherded a $30 million package in development subsidies through a committee.
But the effect to taxpayers is the same; rather than not putting in "a cent," they'll be handing Berkowitz $9 million in subsidies taken from property taxes. What's more, Berkowitz and his team actually put in their request (for $15 million) back in February; they didn't publicize the request until now, the Miami Herald reports, because they wanted to wait until after voters approved the deal in the August vote.
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The same vote, mind you, in which Regalado assured them that backing SkyRise wouldn't cost them anything.
The subsidy package still faces a vote by the full county commission.
Riptide has requested comment from Regalado. We'll update this post when we hear back.