Beetles, bats, and butterflies crawl, fly, and flutter in plans to open the Miami Wilds, a water park, hotel, shops and restaurant project at the front door of Zoo Miami.
Miami Today reported the start of 2024 in September. Paul Lambert, principal manager at Lambert Advisory, said the opening has been pushed to mid-2025, “mainly because the lease was not fully executed until the end of June of this year.”
Mr Lambert said the park remains “sensitive to the surrounding natural areas”, with Zoo Miami being planned for 27.5 acres on adjacent public land. The project is “outside the environmentally protected areas”, he said.
While environmental groups previously raised survival alarms for 26 endangered or threatened species, those related have been narrowed down to three: the Florida bonneted bat, Miami tiger beetle, and Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly.
Miami Today previously reported that the park next to Zoo Miami would cost over $100 million and include a lazy river attraction, wave pools, slides of all sizes, kiddie pools, and a beachfront, 200-room hotel with shady landscapes. , 15,000 would be included. 20,000 square feet of retail and large parking area.
The timeline previously aimed to open before June 2024, but issuance of deed restrictions from the National Park Service and delays in signing the lease with the county changed the schedule.
The developer, MiamiWilds LLC, plans to begin construction in July or August 2023. “The county fully implemented the lease agreement package on June 23,” confirmed Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department spokesman Michael Zimmer. Miami Today.
The county expects $120.7 million in positive financial impact during the initial 40-year period of the lease agreement, including $37.3 million from the water park, $8.4 million from the retail development sector, $13.8 million from the first phase family hotel and $61.2 million . From Zoo Miami Visitor Parking Revenue, says a memo from Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Morales.
“All of the construction land will now be used as Zoo Miami parking,” confirmed Mr Lambert. He said that no protected area will be violated. An audio survey is underway to determine the impact on Florida’s bonnet bats and a preserve and area for tiger beetles are being explored.
Alice Bennett, with the Center for Biological Diversity, doesn’t see the project as a complete deal.
“There are many rare and incomplete species in this area,” she said, and “it is one of the largest feeding sites for bonnet bats.”
A month ago, the center filed an intention to sue the National Park Service. “The NPS was to look at the direct and indirect impact on the species” around the development area. “It hasn’t been done,” she said.
According to the project’s website, miamiwilds.com, the water park will feature “a lazy river attraction, wave pools, slides of all sizes, kiddie pools and a beach area to relax with shady landscaped areas.”
The hotel, according to the website, will be “a 200-room family lodge hotel designed for out-of-town families who want to spend a night or more in the area to visit South Miami-Dade attractions.”
The retail area, “Mercado” will include “small unique retail and specialty shops,” the site said, and “a variety of restaurants…” from quick service to seating areas.