City of Miami voters will decide Tuesday whether to let a local developer build Florida's tallest building on the waterfront behind Bayside Marketplace.
Jeff Berkowitz visualizes SkyRise Miami as the city's special landmark. A $400 million, 1,000-foot tower stuffed with observation decks, restaurants, a theater and even some thrill rides. It would create jobs, bolster the economy and polish up the Miami brand. He says this is what major cities do.
"These towers are a proven concept. They're all over the world," Berkowitz says. "They attract a lot of people. The Eiffel Tower has had over 250 million visitors since it opened."
SkyRise would be visible all over Miami and, from its top, command the view over a 40-mile horizon from Key Largo to North Broward. Mayor Tomás Regalado says he's prepared to be impressed.
"I think it's a job builder," he says. "Whether it would bring millions of visitors, I don't know."
But those millions of visitors may be necessary to SkyRise's success. Berkowitz is promising a first-year revenue of $100 million and at least 3.2 million visitors a year.
And if anything is too big to fail, it's SkyRise Miami.
"It's not like if you build a building and say 'well, gee, we had a good idea but it didn't seem to work so we'll just tear down the building and build something else,'" he says. "You can't easily tear down a 1,000-foot tower."
The SkyRise question is the third of three proposed city charter amendments on the ballot. It looks like it's about Bayside's lease with Miami, but it's really about a humongous tower that a wealthy developer says will brand the city and change it forever.