Miami-Dade is long accustomed to the impact from waves of Cuban immigrants seeking asylum in the US. It’s part of Miami’s rich cultural fabric.
Another wave is emerging on the horizon – and on the skyline. It’s first impact appears to be a ferry terminal project on prime vacant land owned by PortMiami. According to the Miami Herald, the port project could position Miami as the primary jumping-off point for a ferry industry that hopes to provide affordable travel and shipping between the two countries.
The site has been a source of controversy of the years as developers pursued high profile projects. Most recently, a legal wrinkle appears to have restricted development options to those involving port or port-related uses.
“We need to be prepared for when the situation is here, when the business is ready to launch,” according to port director Juan Kuryla. “We anticipate it’s going to be a flourishing business here in Miami.”
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado says, “It’s inevitable.”
While new US regulation permit ferry service to Cuba, it has been the Cubans who have stalled approval. One issue with US ferry service is that, unlike cruise ships, passengers must find accommodation on land at the port of entry. With hotel occupancy rates close to 100% combined with woefully inadequate infrastructure, it is no surprise that Cuban authorities favor cruise ships.