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MetroCenter development moves forward on 17 acres in downtown

Written by Richard Battin on May 21, 2024

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MetroCenter development on 17 acres in downtown moves forward

MetroCenter, Miami-Dade County's $10 billion downtown utopia, got a little more money last week.

The project, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a presentation last August, would be a “transformational redesign of the … Government Center campus.”

The county's Infrastructure, Operations and Innovation Committee voted unanimously to send a resolution to the county commission that would provide an additional $1.6 million for the first 17-acre phase of MetroCenter.

The money will go to Washington, D.C.-based IMG Rebel Advisory Inc., which provides real estate development and financial advisory services there.

The company has already received $1 million, bringing the revised contract amount to $2.6 million.

The ambitious project would transform about 17 acres in downtown Miami into a “vibrant” mixed-use development, the mayor said. MetroCenter will eventually expand to a 29-acre campus.

Attached county government offices include affordable workforce housing, a library, a park, a transit terminal, and places for recreation and parking.

Housing types include traditional rental apartments, condominiums, townhouses, student-oriented apartments, senior apartments and small apartments.

County officials aren't talking about the massive undertaking because they say it is a “cone of silence” project that, as defined on miamidade.gov, prohibits “certain oral communications” about certain projects.

The “Cone of Silence,” the county’s website states, “is intended to protect the professional integrity of the procurement process by protecting it from undue influence prior to recommending contract award.”

The vision, as explained in a county-sponsored MetroCenter Industry Day presentation on Aug. 10, is to “design a new, vibrant neighborhood” where:

■Residents and their families can live, work, play and learn.

■Affordable housing is the focus.

■Children can walk to school.

■Public transport is excellent and a car is not necessary as the route is walkable and safe for cyclists.

■Green parks and open spaces promote activity and health.

■It will be a model for resilience and energy efficiency.

■Companies will want to locate here.

■Retail, restaurants and cultural facilities will revitalize the area.

■State institutions will be integrated into the district.

A draft scope of work issued by the county states: “The development represents a combination of surplus land and underutilized parcels consisting of 11 major sites, most of which are improved and occupied by public uses that must be relocated and/or reconstructed to free up the land for development.”

The 17-acre development site is part of a larger area (approximately 29 acres) intended to serve as the seat of Miami-Dade County government, “with direct access to the Metrorail Government Center Station and external transportation networks, in the center of Miami's urban landscape.” .”

According to the proposal, the project will include 2,000 public parking spaces accessible to Government Center employees and visitors, as well as 132 spaces for the county's fleet, including 50 for electric vehicles.

Residents, the draft states, will “generate economic activity and…have a live-work-play lifestyle that includes a mix of income and housing types, including affordable housing, workforce housing and market-rate housing.”

The tender process began last Tuesday. Once a master developer is selected, construction on the first phase should begin within 24 months, the county said.

The entire 29-acre development could take between 10 and 15 years to complete.

First phase features include:

■A downtown intermodal terminal with direct connection to Government Center Station Metrorail and Metromover.

■Fleet parking, fueling and maintenance must be repositioned on site or relocated to the immediate market region.

■A cultural and arts campus with a library and space for the HistoryMiami Museum.

■Approximately 60,000 square feet of office space for use by the county's Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department.

■A recreation, wellness and conservation center covering approximately 45,000 square meters, preferably within a 5-minute walk of the Parks Department headquarters and shared with cultural and educational institutions.

■Daycare center large enough to meet the needs of the existing daycare center. The daycare center is intended to provide a mixed income model, including self-funded and subsidized daycare and family services through HeadStart or other programs.

There is something for everyone, including district representatives.

Improvements for the county include new county commission chambers, approximately 36,000 square feet for commissioners' offices and conference rooms for the commission, and 7,350 square feet for commission chambers and auditorium space.

School facilities from preschool to 12th grade are also planned.

Anna Harden

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