May 15, 2024 - News

Miami island home to native birds for sale

Birds sitting in a tree.

Some of the birds that call Bird Key home. Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Boykin

A private island in Biscayne Bay has hit the market for $31.5 million.

Why it matters: Bird Key, located just south of the 79th Street Causeway, is considered environmentally endangered and has long been a sanctuary for native birds, the Miami New Times reports.

  • It is one of two naturally formed islands in the bay north of the Rickenbacker Causeway, per the Miami Herald.

Driving the news: The 4-acre island, which was listed for sale April 26, is being advertised as a 37-acre "residential opportunity," including the submerged lands surrounding it.

  • "It is a golden opportunity for a developer to acquire and use for environmental mitigation, or one could acquire it to donate it to the public as an environmental treasure, or finally a very lucky individual may create Miami's most exclusive address, because this gem is zoned residential," the listing says.

Friction point: Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tells the New Times that the county offered to purchase Bird Key in 2023 but was turned down.

  • "We are eager to find alternatives, including state or federal support, to purchase this property and expand the footprint of our Biscayne Bay protection programs," she told the outlet.

Flashback: The island has served as an important bird habitat since at least 1770, when a British surveyor named it Bird Island, according to the Herald.

  • The property changed hands a few times in the last 100 years, eventually being purchased in 1985 by Edward Easton and Finlay Matheson of the pioneering Matheson family.

In 2012, Matheson told the Herald he wanted to see Bird Key become an official bird sanctuary.

  • "I think the highest and best use is to sell it to a developer who needs it for environmental mitigation."

Yes, but: Matheson now tells New Times he's not concerned about its fate and urges prospective buyers to make an offer.

  • "[Bird Key] has been sitting idle for a long time. There's lots of activity on the market," he told the outlet. "Now's the time."
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