The First Miami Presbyterian Church is looking to sell a portion of its prime real estate location for development on the Miami River and church members are set to vote on the possible deal on Sunday, the church’s head of staff and reverend said Monday. The church, the oldest congregation in Miami, wants to move forward with plans to sell the waterfront parking lot and the Key Point Christian Academy building at 609 Brickell Ave. to the Brickell-based real estate firm 13th Floor Investments, according to documents shared with the Miami Herald from a source who had access to the plans at an Oct. 3 meeting of church members.

The source said the plans are for a high-rise condominium with retail and restaurant space on the ground floor. It would also provide the church with congregation space inside the tower. The project would be built on one of the last remaining waterfront properties in Brickell. With views of Brickell Key, Biscayne Bay and the ocean beyond the residential tower would sit between the Icon Brickell and an office tower 701 Brickell.

Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek said church members will vote on a plan Sunday after services, but he declined to comment on project details.

“This is a real moment before the church. God has blessed this community with an opportunity to potentially serve the people of Miami and the world to scale,” Benek said. “No matter where we land on Sunday, God has been working for the past 125 years to work through this congregation and he will continue to work through this congregation, regardless of the vote.”

According to the proposal, the church would receive about $240 million. Benek declined to comment on any financial arrangements. The 150-member church has faced financial challenges in recent years. In 2018, the church received a $7 million tax bill for allowing some of its property to be used for profit.

Benek said, “We’re not making a decision from scarcity, but of abundance.”

Another source familiar with the plans said church members have not been given enough information ahead of the planned vote this weekend.

“It’s hard to share the opportunities or challenges, because we don’t have enough details about the plan,” the source said. “You need an elected committee of church members to evaluate that. Any plan needs to be evaluated based on the needs of the church and not based on the dollars and cents of a real estate deal.”

 

Source:  Miami Herald

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