Regalado calls special meeting on marina redevelopment. But will commissioners show?

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado called on Miami commissioners late Friday to cut short their August vacation in order to endorse a marina redevelopment pursued for years by the mayor’s lame-duck administration.

But will commissioners actually show up?

Due to a charter requirement that long-term leases of waterfront land go before the voters, Regalado needs commissioners to attend the Aug. 28 meeting and support the project in order to beat a Sept. 8 elections department deadline to place items on the November ballot. Ahead of his looming exit from office, Regalado has been pushing the $80 million project on Virginia Key for the last two years but has been unable to get commission support amid criticisms over half-baked preparation and over-development.

Already, a likely swing vote says he won’t participate

“I’ve spoken to the mayor and I won’t be attending,” Commissioner Ken Russell said Friday.

Under city law, Regalado needs three of the city’s five commissioners to attend the meeting simply to be able to hold a vote. That leaves him little room for error, especially with commissioners Frank Carollo and Francis Suarez having voted against the marina redevelopment.

The absence of Russell, whose district includes Virginia Key, calls into question whether there will even be quorum to hold city business.

Russell said he’s uncomfortable meeting to vote on the project because the incumbent operator of the Rickenbacker Marina and second-place bidder, Aabad Melwani, is challenging the city’s redevelopment competition. Melwani’s Biscayne Marine Partners notified the city this month after losing a bid protest that it intends to appeal the city’s award of the project to Virginia Key LLC, a partnership between RCI Group and Suntex Marinas.

“I don’t think we should take this up until the legal action has taken its course,” Russell said. “We spent an entire year making sure we got the process right. To take it up for a vote while it’s still under dispute… I think would be cart ahead of the horse.”

Officially, Regalado called the meeting to discuss any potential ballot questions that the commission might still want to get before voters in November. But the mayor said he’s focused on the marina redevelopment, and left the meeting open-ended in case commissioners wish to place additional items on the agenda.

Regalado scheduled the meeting for 9 a.m. As for whether the city will be able conduct business, he texted Friday: “Only God knows.”