Town explores land swap for ‘potato field’ property

Town explores land swap for ‘potato field’ property

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The Town of Cutler Bay is looking to engage in a land swap with the owners of a parcel on Old Cutler Road and SW 212th Street, commonly known as the “potato field,” with that property being exchanged for the six-story building and adjacent property at 10720 Caribbean Blvd. where the current Town Hall is located.

Mayor Tim Meerbott published an open letter to residents on Aug. 5 stating:

“Dear Neighbors and Friends,

During our last Town Council Meeting on July 17, the Town Council and I approved the purchase of approximately 16 acres located north of SW 212 Street and east of Old Cutler Road (a parcel of land better known as the “Potato Field”) from GCF Investments Inc. while selling them the building and land where our current Town Hall sits (the Cutler Bay Town Center).

This “land swap” agreement is currently in the due diligence phase, which lasts approximately 90 days. As we perform environmental studies and evaluations on the parcel of land, GCF Investments Inc. will perform their inspections on our Cutler Bay Town Center building and land. Once all parties involved are satisfied with the sale, the contract will be finalized.”

Mayor Meerbott went on to say that the immediate benefit would be a reduction in cost, because the Cutler Bay Town Center building has been a drain on the town’s budget and was resulting in losses of approximately $744,000 per fiscal year.

“The long-term benefits are much greater,” he added. “The property that we are acquiring is currently zoned for mixed use commercial and residential development, with a residential component allowing a maximum of 30 units per acre (or approximately 480 units for all 16 acres). By transforming this property into a public space, not only will we be preventing any development with multiple residential units from materializing on it, but we will also be controlling the traffic that would come along with it.”

The plan is to transform the land on Old Cutler Road into an open community plaza and park complex that will house the future Town Hall and be a gathering place for the community. Once the transaction is complete, several public visioning sessions will take place so that town residents can voice what they envision for this space.

The ordinance passed on Wednesday, July 17, 2019 states:

“An ordinance of the Mayor and Town Council of the Town of Cutler Bay, Florida, approving the purchase of property from GCF Investments Inc., consisting of approximately 16 acres, and generally located north of SW 212 Street, south of Marlin Drive, east of Old Cutler Road, and west of SW 92nd Place; approving the sale of properties to GCF Investments Inc. (or an affiliated entity), consisting of approximately 4.95 acres, and located at 10720 Caribbean Blvd.; providing for authorization; providing for severability; providing for conflicts; and providing for an effective date.”

On Nov. 5, 2018, the Town Council adopted Resolution No. 18-83 authorizing the Town Manager to execute a Letter of Intent with GCF Investments (GCF) Inc. related to a property exchange of property owned by GCF. For several months, the town manager and attorney had been actively negotiating with representatives from GCF. As a result of the negotiations, GCF has agreed to exchange a total of 16 Acres for the Town Hall Building and vacant land parcel including cash considerations. The property on Old Cutler Road, which is immediately north of the site of the planned new Publix Supermarket, was hoped to be acquired last year for park space and other community use and a special all mail ballot election was conducted to decide if the town should be authorized to issue GO Bonds in the amount of $40 million, secured by ad valorem taxes to be levied on each property owner within the town. That effort failed when voters did not support the plan. The new land swap agreement presumably will not require the issuance of GO Bonds or result in any additional taxes for the town’s property owners.

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