Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS MIAMI WILDS?
Decades in the planning by Miami-Dade County, Miami Wilds is a family-friendly leisure destination that includes a water park, a family friendly boutique hotel, an interpretive learning pedestrian spine connecting all of the venues to the zoo and a small number of unique small retail shops and restaurants. The eco-sensitive project is being built on 27.5-acres of existing County-owned parking lots adjacent to Zoo Miami.
WHAT IS THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF MIAMI WILDS?
The project willl provide a significant boost to the South Dade economy with Miami Wilds hiring an estimated 304 local team members when it opens and 403 when fully operational. The project is committed to creating a skilled jobs training program for local job seekers in conjunction with local schools and colleges. Additionally, it will create broad opportunities for local business enterprises to participate through a Small Business Enterprise partnership and vendor program during construction and in ongoing operations. The project also includes senior and retiree workforce outreach programs.
IS THE PROJECT BEING BUILT IN THE PINE ROCKLANDS AND ASSOCIATED ENDANGERED SPECIES HABITAT?
No. The 27.5 acre area where Miami Wilds (water park, family hotel and Mercado) is being built is on existing asphalt paved parking lots that are currently in daily use by Zoo Miami guests and employees.
WHAT ARE THE COMMUNITY BENEFITS THAT WILL RESULT FROM MIAMI WILDS?
The project developers, designers, and operators are committed to art in public places as part of the interpretive landscaped pedestrian spine connecting all existing venues, including Zoo Miami and the Gold Coast Railroad and Miami Military museums to Miami Wilds. Other community-oriented efforts will include an advanced lifeguard training program, security patrols, partnerships with not-for-profit service agencies for fund raising as well as membership in local chambers and local economic development organizations so that Miami Wilds is a fully engaged member within the regional business community.
WILL MIAMI WILDS PLAY A ROLE IN GROWING TOURISM TO MIAMI AND SOUTH DADE?
Yes. In addition to providing a much-needed family oriented entertainment center for locals and visitors to Miami, a distinctive aspect of Miami Wilds is the project’s synergy with existing tourist attractions in the area including Zoo Miami, two nearby national parks (Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay National Park), as well as two local heritage museums. Market research indicates that more than 45% of total Miami Wilds guests will be tourists from outside the region. Miami Wilds will serve as the “Gateway to South Dade” celebrating the nature based and agro-tourism opportunities in the region.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION TO ZOO MIAMI?
Long-standing plans have called for the expansion of the recreational footprint in South Dade adjacent to Zoo Miami with development that complements the zoo and other nearby attractions, including two heritage museums, the historic Gold Coast Railroad Museum and the Miami Military Museum. Miami Wilds, Zoo Miami and the other venues are already discussing cross marketing and ticketing and coordination of events. Miami Wilds also includes an interpretive pedestrian connector that will link the various venues and highlights the Everglades-related habitat and Pine Rocklands. Zoo Miami is administered by the County’s Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department. The Miami Wilds public/private partnership project will also come under the Department’s purview.
WILL MIAMI-DADE TAXPAYERS BE IMPACTED?
There will be absolutely no tax increase as a result of Miami Wilds. Rather, revenues paid to the County (estimate by the county at $120.7 million over the initial term of the lease) as well as property taxes on improvements will support the Zoo, restoration and maintenance of natural areas, as well as the County’s General Fund. Additional hotel related taxes will also help fund tourist investment in the area. These payments and taxes will offset the cost of projects and operations which would otherwise rely on taxpayer funding. The $115 million Miami Wilds project is being privately financed. After Miami Wilds is operational and produces a minimum of 304 jobs at an average annual wage of $35,600 over the first 5 years of operations, the County’s Building Better Communities Bond Program Economic Development Fund, a voter-approved initiative will reimburse up to $13.5 million to Miami Wilds to defray the costs of the parking lot improvements for Zoo Miami and Miami Wilds.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT DOING TO SERVE AS A STEWARD OF THE ENVIRONMENT?
Miami Wilds is committed to the principles of conservation and sustainability. Interpretive educational features will provide local residents and visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about surrounding ecosystem while enjoying leisure activities. The 27.5 acre Miami Wilds project is being developed outside protected natural areas. An element of the project is to increase awareness of the nearby ecosystem and foster a greater appreciation for South Dade’s natural resources. Other eco-sensitive aspects of Miami Wilds include the following:
- Miami Wilds will be designed to LEED Silver plus standards
- The waterpark will have advanced water recapture systems including rainwater filtering with net loss of water through evaporation
- Project and parking areas to be designed with dark sky and wildlife friendly lighting consistent with Miami-Dade code
- Miami Wilds will use bird friendly window design and glass in building construction
- Board of County Commission Direction to Mayor to Negotiate Directly with Miami Wilds in 2014.
- Native plants and plant material will be used in landscaping
- The interpretive pedestrian spine connecting the zoo, waterpark, railroad museum, and military museum will be built around elements which highlight the natural South Dade environment and Everglades
- Theming of the facilities are being developed to celebrate the surrounding natural areas and Everglades
- All construction staff will be required to go through training to avoid natural areas and disturbance of the surrounding natural environment
ISN'T MIAMI WILDS GOING TO INCREASE TRAFFIC CONGESTION ALONG SW 152ND STREET AND AT THE TURNPIKE INTERSECTION?
Miami Wilds is projected to generate less than 1/3 of the traffic which has already been approved for the Zoo Miami Entertainment Areas in 2010 subject to required roadway improvements. While Miami Wilds is likely to put additional cars on the road, it is being designed to not create additional congestion. First, the majority of guests will be arriving to the waterpark following the morning rush hour. Leaving the waterpark in the afternoon and evening, guests will be principally traveling from west-to-east at a time the rush hour traffic along SW 152nd Street is traveling east-to-west. In fact, peak visitor days for Miami Wilds is on holidays and weekends when other traffic is at its lowest. Second, the project will be required to invest in off-site traffic improvements dictated by Miami-Dade County to mitigate traffic increases from the project and enhance traffic flow along SW 152nd Street past the main entrance to the zoo. Third, Miami Wilds will be required to station three off-duty police officers at key intersections on high volume zoo and waterpark visitor days to ensure driver compliance and manage traffic flow along SW 152nd Street and at the Turnpike intersection. Finally, major roadway improvements to ease congestion already underway along the Turnpike, Don Shula, tied to the new ramp at SW 128th Street and improvements at the SW 152nd Street/SW 117th Avenue exit nearest the zoo will be complete long before Miami Wilds is open.