December 7, 2022
Sticking point: FIU seeks expansion
The fair property is across the street from FIU's campus (right).

Miami-Dade Roundup

Sticking point: FIU seeks expansion

Can FIU and the operator of the Miami- Dade Youth Fair work out a land deal?

Florida International University wants to expand its 342-acre main campus in Sweetwater and knows exactly where it wants to grow — on the 86-acre, county-owned Tamiami Park just across the street from the FIU campus.

In a county referendum last year, 65% of voters agreed to exempt FIU from complying with development restrictions at the park. But there’s a sticking point: The Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, which runs the 64-year-old Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, has a lease on the land through 2085. The county can’t break the fair’s lease unless it provides an equal or better site. And so far, the county, FIU and the fair haven’t been able to come up with one that works for all of them.

FIU, which opened in 1972, is limited by “the smallest main campus of any of our public universities except for New College,” says university President Mark Rosenberg. FIU wants to use the park site to expand its engineering center, the nation’s top producer of minority engineers, as well as grow its nursing and medical schools and associated clinical and research space. It also plans to build student housing, economic development departments and space for commercialization of the university’s research.

“There is huge demand for undergraduate education coming from our own county,” Rosenberg says.

Funds for the planned expansion and relocating the fair technically must come from FIU (the referendum bans the use of county funds for the relocation). The Legislature has already allocated $10 million, a small part of what will be required. Rosenberg says he’s confident that the Legislature will provide the money necessary for the school to grow.

Bob Hohenstein, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, says the organization is willing to move if the terms of its lease are followed: The site must be as good as or better than the current site, the fair must get three years notice and be reimbursed for its $60 million to $80 million investment in Tamiami Park.

So far, the three parties have looked at 24 sites and paid for in-depth studies of three. The fair rejected two of those and wanted to study the third, which FIU declared as too expensive, Hohenstein says.

Hohenstein says he doesn’t know if the right site exists to relocate the fair, which had more than 650,000 visitors this year. “That, candidly, is FIU’s responsibility,” he says. There have been few successful relocations of fairgrounds, he adds. “We’re going to be very conservative. We’re going to be very cautious.”

Rosenberg remains optimistic a new, affordable site can be found. “I’d like to think it’s going to happen within months,” he says.


  • Coastal Construction Group promoted Tom C. Murphy and Sean Murphy to co-presidents. They replace Dan Whiteman, who became the company’s vice chairman.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings named longtime board member Walter Revell chairman of its board; Revell is CEO and chairman of Coral Gablesbased Revell Investments International and chairman of the board of Miami-based International Finance Bank.
  • Global wholesale and reinsurance brokerage Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford promoted Ulisses Soares to CEO of its Latin American region; he had been the regional COO.
  • The Beacon Council, the county’s economic development partnership, named Susan Greene chief marketing officer. She was marketing director at the Becker & Poliakoff law firm.
  • Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance hired Glenn H. Gregory as executive managing director of its Miami office and co-chair of its office practice group. He had been Jones Lang LaSalle’s Miami office leadership team co-chair and an executive vice president with JLL.

Business Briefs

CORAL GABLES — Professional Bank raised $15 million in a private stock sale and will use the proceeds to grow.

EL PORTAL — Coral Gables-based Wealthy Delight paid $14.25 million to purchase the 13.86-acre Biscayne Mobile Home Park from New York-based Madison Realty Capital. The village plans to develop a new planning and zoning code that will encourage mixed-use development in the area.

HIALEAH — The Centergate at Gratigny, a 970,804-sq.-ft. warehouse and manufacturing center, sold to an affiliate of Prudential Insurance Co. Of America for $78 million; the seller was an affiliate of Barclays Capital Real Estate. Prudential also purchased a vacant, nearby, 29.3- acre parcel of land from Barclays for $17.75 million.

HIALEAH GARDENS — Massachusettsbased Linchris Hotel paid $21.9 million to buy the 10-story, 259-room Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel at Miami International Airport from Hollywood- based PointOne Holdings.

KENDALL — AMLI Residential paid $104.5 million to buy the midrise, 350-unit, rental apartment community Modera Dadeland from developer Mill Creek Residential.

MIAMI — Developers SLH Investment Group, Group Terrot and Upside Investments will build a fourstory project called Buena Vista Villas in the city’s Little Haiti district. The project will include 10,000 square feet of retail space, 12 condominiums and a rooftop terrace. > Terra Group, the developer of Grove at Grand Bay, reported that the 98 condos in the luxury building are selling for an average of $1,100 per square foot — a record for the Coconut Grove neighborhood. > Marathon Lodging paid $15.5 million to purchase a parcel in the city’s Brickell neighborhood from Walgreen’s. The parcel has a one-story building on it.

Rajen Properties paid $21 million to purchase the 48,993-sq.-ft. Shoppes of Coral Way from an un-named local investor group. > One Real Estate Investments paid $15 million for 1.79 vacant acres of land in the Wynwood neighborhood. > New Yorkbased Thor Equities paid $16 million to acquire a 9,700-sq.-ft. parcel of land in the Design District.

MIAMI BEACH — Miami-based MRK Investments paid $9.5 million for the Marlin Hotel in South Beach; the historic property includes South Beach Studios. The music studios were shut down at the beginning of April, and the new owners reportedly plan to replace the studios with additional hotel rooms. > Developer Alan Faena began sales for the newest components of his planned Faena District Miami Beach in Mid-Beach: The 22-unit Faena Versailles Classic condo tower and the 41-unit Faena Versailles Contemporary tower. The total project will also include an event complex, arts center, shops, hotels and the underconstruction Faena House condo and Faena Hotel Miami Beach.

MIAMI-DADE — Miami-based Sunshine Gasoline Distributors purchased 23 service stations in Miami- Dade for $19.75 million from Floval Oil. As part of the same transaction, it paid $4.1 million for three Broward stations. > Tri-Rail opened its Miami International Airport station in April at its Miami Intermodal Center transit hub, which also houses a Metrorail station and rental car complex. The hub connects to MIA via an automated train.

MIAMI GARDENS — North Miamibased I. M.C. Property Management plans to demolish a 281,000-sq.-ft. retail plaza, which it bought for $7.08 million, and redevelop it into a 300,000-sq.-ft. class A retail plaza.

MONROE COUNTY — Rockland Investment, a coalition of property owners led by David Garfunkel, plans a 33-acre shopping center on Rockland Key that would be anchored by a Walmart; it would be the first in the county.

SUNNY ISLES BEACH — The Verzasca Group paid $10.5 million for the nearly one-acre site of a Denny’s restaurant, on which it plans to build a 76-unit condo tower. The Russian developer has two projects under way in nearby Bay Harbor Islands.

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