The operators of Jungle Island got the final go-ahead from city commissioners Thursday to build a hotel and a series of recreational features designed to improve the long-struggling attraction’s fortunes by turning it into an “eco-adventure” resort.

The 5-0 vote came after Jungle Island’s owner, ESJ Capital Partners, wired $804,000 in overdue rent to the city, a condition wary commissioners insisted on when they gave an initial OK for the expansion in late January. ESJ blamed the late rent on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced closure of most of the attraction on publicly owned Watson Island for nearly a year.

“Congratulations, ESJ and Jungle Island,” Miami Commission chair Ken Russell, whose district includes Watson Island, told attraction representatives in attendance at the hearing following the vote.

The approval of a complex lease agreement and a suite of required zoning and land-use changes came more than two and a half years after Miami voters overwhelmingly approved the hotel proposal in a referendum.

Russell and fellow commissioners did insert one last-minute amendment into the agreement with ESJ in response to complaints from residents of a Venetian Islands condo that sits across a narrow channel from Jungle Island on Biscayne Bay. Venetian Causeway home and condo owners previously and successfully pressed for changes to the planned eco-adventure park’s layout to lessen potential impact on residents.

An architectural rendering shows a conceptual design for a planned hotel atop a parking garage at the Jungle Island attraction on Watson Island. The hotel design is not final.