SkyRise Miami, the tallest observation tower in Florida and the second in the entire country after the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, set to be launched in all its swanky, hairpin-shaped, 1000-foot tall avatar, somewhere in the middle of 2017. Although the plan was approved by the Miami City Commission back in June, it got the citizens’ assent during the polls held on August 26, where members of the public voted in favor of the construction of the skyscraper, at one corner of the Bayside Marketplace.
The $430 million project will involve the establishment of an enormous 304-meter high tower, shaped in the form of a bobby pin, near the Biscayne Bay and only about 10 miles away from South Beach. Developer Jeff Berkowitz envisions the building as an all-in-one entertainment center, ” Miami’s Eiffel Tower” he calls it, comprising of a hoard of attractions, including three observation decks that will offer breathtaking panoramic view of the Miami skyline, a five-star restaurant, a ballroom, an exclusive private club and a nightclub.
Visitors can also spend their time watching movies at the state-of-the-art “flying” cinema, built 1000-feet above the ground. Additionally, SkyRise Miami will feature two extreme thrill rides, for adrenaline junkies. The SkyRise Drop will have the guests jumping right off the tower, while being “attached to a high-speed controlled-descent wire”. For the SkyPlunge, the visitors will be secured into a harness and then made to drop 50 stories before coming to a stop.
Miami-based Arquitectonica firm, the lead builder of the project, has confirmed that the construction will commence towards the end of this year and will hopefully be completed by 2017. The building will be specially designed to hold out against even the most ferocious hurricane winds. The developers are confident that it will receive the LEED Gold Certification. Talking about the SkyRise tower and why he chose Miami as its location, Jeff Berkowitz says:
Miami is a world-class city. And I think an iconic structure downtown will firmly cement Miami on the global stage.
The cost of the entire enterprise will amount to around $430 million in private funds, partly paid by Berkowitz himself and the rest by means of foreign investment, through the EB-5 visa immigration program. The developers claim that upon completion, the skyscraper will attract a total of 3.2 million visitors from across the world every year, apart from the 17,000 jobs they believe it will create.
Not everyone, however, shares Berkowitz’s enthusiasm. While many are skeptical about the feasibility of such an ambitious construction project so close to the shoreline, Charles Corda, a Coconut Grove-based architect, has written a detailed report as to why SkyRise Miami will eventually prove to be a burden for the city and its people. He says:
…I don’t object to the construction of an observation tower within the City of Miami. I do object to the proposed SkyRise tower and possible future casino being constructed on publicly owned land.
His arguments are based on his doubts regarding the project’s “viability on two counts: the number of visitors and the basic economics”. By calculating what he calls the “capture rates ” of other tourist attractions around the world, on the basis of the permanent and the visiting population of the respective places, Corda has been able to challenge the 3.2 million figure put forward by Berkowitz and his associates. The Empire State Building in New York City receives around 3.5 million visitors annually; by comparison therefore, the total number of guests coming to SkyRise Miami should be far less. If that be the case, Corda believes that the project will lose about $23.36 million in the very first year after its launch.