Miami Beach’s elected officials are laying the groundwork for a search for a new operator for Nikki Beach Properties, a longtime restaurant and outdoor club on the main waterfront south of the city’s Fifth Neighborhood.

Commissioners voted 5-2 on Friday to authorize city manager Alina Hudak to sign a nonbinding term sheet with the Boucher Brothers to take over the two-story site on city-owned land. The new lease will begin in three years when the current management contract expires.

Married couple Jack and Lucia Penrod have operated Nikki Beach and a previous iteration called Penrod’s on the Beach for 37 years, according to city documents. In addition to the 23,000-square-foot building at 1 Ocean Drive, Penrods also has exclusive use of the public beach area for outdoor seating.they currently pay miami beach According to city staff, that’s about $42 per square foot per year.

The change comes without the city bidding for new leases, a move that drew criticism from some commissioners and residents on the Miami Beach Nextdoor forum.

Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who initiated the measure to find a new operator, said he proposed the change after speaking with the heads of Boucher Brothers, which currently has a long-term city contract in the city. Chairs, umbrellas and other concessions are provided on the public beach. According to state corporate records, Boucher Brothers was managed by James, Michael, Perry and Steven Boucher.

“The Boucher Brothers expressed interest in taking over,” Arriola said. “I’m willing to engage them on a non-binding term sheet.”

He insisted his intention was not to give Boucher Brothers a head start on a three-year no-bid contract. If the Boucher Brothers submit a “compelling proposal,” the city could use its offer as a “stalking horse” as a benchmark to attract other potential bidders.

Arriola also claimed that the city’s competitive bidding process often took so long that there were either no bids or only one bidder submitted a proposal.

Commissioner Steven Miner, who voted against it with his colleague Alex Fernandez, said he would have preferred the city to put the Nikki Beach contract up for bid. “We should let the market not only dictate the idea, but the market dictate the value,” Miner said. “I’m not even willing to do a term sheet.”

Meiner added that by negotiating only with the Boucher Brothers, the city commissioner is creating a perception of favoritism among the public.

In a letter posted on the social media platform Nextdoor, Lucia Penrod said she and her husband were caught off guard by the city. “We were not notified nor invited to participate,” she wrote. “We want to continue our partnership with the city and our neighbors.”

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