MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Jungle Island has found a private investor who is willing to help the financially strapped park come up with the money it needs for a federal loan payment due this fall.
But there’s a catch. The investor is reportedly only willing to help if Miami extends the park’s lease for another 50 years and allows it to expand, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
Currently, Jungle Island is short the $2 million is needs for the August payment. If they fail to make the payment, Miami and Miami-Dade County are on the hook for up to $40 million in federal, city and county loans.
Park owner Bern Levine told the paper to become financially in the black they need to expand so they can attract a hotelier, restaurants and retailers to the property. He’s also like the city and county to forgive nearly $26 million in debts and instead work out a profit-sharing arrangement.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado isn’t thrilled with the proposition. He said it the park wants to continue their conversation with the city about lease extensions and expansion, they first need to come up with $2 million.
The city commission will discuss the future of the park at a special meeting this Tuesday. Any changes would have to be approved in a public referendum in November.
Jungle Island began as Parrot Jungle back in 1936 and became known for its colorful array of exotic birds. In those days, the attraction was located Pinecrest. After the move to Watson Island, the park was renamed in 2007.
In order to move to the larger, more centrally located location, Jungle Island secured a $25 million loan from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Both the city and the county agreed to serve as guarantors. The park was able to defer payments on the HUD loan until this year. It also got the city to agree to amend their 60 lease so that rent payments could also be deferred.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.