Ancient Artifacts Found At Brickell Construction Site - What Happens Now? - Miami Luxury Homes
BY Michael Light / On February 9, 2023

The internet is ablaze once again as word has spread that ancient artifacts have been unearthed at the construction site where Baccarat Residences prepares to be built. How could Related Group continue building on an ancient Tequesta settlement? Why hasn’t the City of Miami done anything? What is going to happen with the project? Can we have a park instead?

We have all the answers here. Let’s break it down.

The Back Story

This week, the Miami Herald published a story about the ancient artifacts being found at the riverfront construction site. A link to the original article is here, but there is a paywall. Archaeologist William Pestle told the newspaper that the artifacts date back to “the time of the emergence of the first cities in Mesopotamia,” thousands of years before the Roman Empire. Prior to being lodged in the heart of the Brickell Financial District, the site was home to the Tequesta tribe for thousands of years before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

People panicked. Rumors swarmed. The comments section on Instagram and Facebook posts are filled with questions, speculation, and accusations. People are saying that Related Group is paying off the city in order to brush this under the rug. The development site should become a park dedicated to the Indians who once lived here. The local politicians are crooked. There is more, but you get the gist.

The Actual Situation

Yes, ancient artifacts were found. The discovery was not a surprise and it did not cause a delay. Related Group expected this and is acting accordingly.

What a lot of people seem to forget that in being the most prolific developer in South Florida, Related Group knows the land that they are building on. They know how to navigate this discovery. In fact, ancient artifacts were also found across the street in what is now Miami Circle Park (pictured above at the mouth of the Miami River and just across Brickell Avenue from the current construction site.

Miami Circle’s discovery also caused a stir and did cause a delay in construction of Icon Brickell as archaeologists tried to figure out what the circle was. Related Group worked with the city and archaeologists and the living Tequesta Indians in order to find a way to commemorate the tribe’s past while still moving into the future with their tower, Icon Brickell. Another circle was discovered on the opposite side of the river, in what is now Muze Apartments. The developer of Muze also made changes to their project in order to honor history.

Another aspect of real estate that many people seem to have forgotten is that every structure built has some sort of artifact below it. That is the nature of the permanence of real estate. One day thousands of years in the future, people will be unearthing iphones and wondering what they are.

How Can Related Be Stopped?

The only thing that will stop Related Group from developing this piece of property is if it does not make financial sense. At this stage, it is highly unlikely that anything could deter them for long. The plans for all three towers are in place, the construction of the rental tower is funded. The Baccarat Residences tower is well into their sales process and the hotel component is waiting close behind.

Politicians with City of Miami are also doing what they can within the scope of their power, but just like Related Group, they knew before dirt started moving that something would be found. A press release with drama and outrage and special meetings is unnecessary for an issue that can be handled quietly. This discovery is not even new. It was first reported by the Wall Street Journal over a year ago. Since then, Related Group has voluntarily undergone additional expense of hiring archaeologists and funding their excavation of the site including collection of artifacts.

The Best Solution

Naturally, the developers are eager to see their project come to fruition in as timely manner as possible. Residents and the descendants of the original inhabitants want some respect paid to those who came before us.

Abby Apè from the Brickell Homeowner’s Association said in an Instagram post, “Preserving some kind of history is important to our neighborhood. We want to see these artifacts preserved and we want the city to do the right thing. The concern is that perhaps they’re not taking the proper steps that code requires them to take. It would be beautiful if the developers could have an on site-park that the neighborhood could enjoy.”

I do agree with Ms Apè regarding the preservation of history, but the park idea is quite tired for this neighborhood. The park just across the street is dedicated to the Tequesta tribe and the neighborhood residents do not do their part to take care of it. It is constantly littered with pet droppings despite the issuance of trash cans and free baggies, and taxpayers have already had to come out of pocket more than once in the last 10 years to have the park refurbished. We also already have many other parks that are under-utilized. The brand-new Underline is just a few blocks away, and another upgrade to the area under the Metro Mover lines is in the works. Related will be connecting the baywalk between Brickell on the River and Brickell Avenue for public use. They are doing their part and following codes.

It is also important to note that Related Group is concerned about what is found under the development site. They have donated at least 2 other parks to the city in conjunction with other developments. Icon Bay has an art-filled waterfront park that was a gift to the city, as well as the Miami Circle Park. They have never said that they are unwilling to preserve the artifacts found beneath their project.

Perhaps Related Group could add some sort of curated display of a selection of artifacts along the baywalk for residents to enjoy, and the residents can also do their part by picking up after their pets so the things that we do have will remain nice for years to come. We wouldn’t want future developers to unearth and preserve a bunch of litter, now would we?


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