Miami Dade College trustees consider third developer to build downtown campus tower/museum

covin proposal

Miami Dade College’s (MDC) board of trustees have given approval to their administrators to negotiate with a third developer which  proposes to build a massive cultural center and commercial project near its downtown Miami campus.

The vote in late April  effectively placed the bid by Gregg Covin Development with Oppenheim Architecture back in the running for the public-private partnership. Now the college’s administrative can negotiate separately with that team, along with the Related Group and Nader + Museu LLP.

The Miami Herald reports the decision sets up a three-way competition between the contenders which, in that order, received  the highest scores from the evaluators out of four original applicants.

“We are honored to be included in the ongoing process and are here to support MDC, the local community, and our local economy,” Covin/Oppenheim said in a statement. “Since the very start, we have been seeking to focus our efforts towards a project that should primarily serve the needs of the larger MDC community and the public. Just as with most world-class cities, we truly believe in these types of ‘cultural and educational’ developments; they are the catalysts that can help foster a stronger sense of community and love for the arts for generations to come.”

One trustee, Daniel Diaz Leyva, said there are elements unique to Covin’s proposal that he likes, although he did not specify the details. Covin’s plan is the only one of the three that doesn’t include condos, something the developer has said he considers “inappropriate” for a public college project.d

The project would go on the 2.6-acre parking lot at 520 Biscayne Blvd., near the historic Freedom Tower. MDC required the construction of an art museum, conference center, and performing art theater for its use as part of the project.

Here are outlines of the differences between the three proposals:

The Related Group: 45,000-sq. ft. museum, 3,020-seat performance mall, 33,750 sq. ft. of convention/function space, and 35,900-sq. ft. sculpture garden, plus 267 underground parking spaces. Supported by at least $15 million in naming rights, guaranteed by the developer if there is no sponsor.

Nader: Museum with 158,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, a 3,000-seat conference center, a 1,600-seat performance theater, a sculpture garden, and 390 parking spaces. Art collector Gary Nader pledged to give $60 million worth of his art to MDC for the museum and he wants a seat on the museum’s board since it would be named after him. It would pay $15 million for the naming rights.

Covin: a 100,000-sq. ft. museum, a 3,000-seat conference center, a 1,600-seat theater, a 52,000-sq. ft. outdoor plaza and 75,000 sq. ft. of covered outdoor space on the ground level. No financial contribution to stock the art museum is mentioned.

On the private development side, here’s what the developers would build:

The Related Group: A 75-story, 350-unit condo tower; a 39-story, a 500,000-sq. ft. office tower; a 100-room hotel; and a 9,000-sq. ft. restaurant. There would be 1,172 parking spaces for those uses. It would also have a 10,000-sq. ft.  private club with free membership for MDC faculty and academic leadership.

Nader: Two 50-story towers with 250 condos each; a private culinary center of 29,950 sq. ft. that would partner with MDC; a 16,016-sq. ft. restaurant; and more than 1,500 parking spaces. Nader’s main financing backer would be BrasilInvest, one of the largest real estate investment firms in Brazil.

Covin: A 57-story tower with 940,000 sq. ft. for apartments, 300,000 sq. ft.  for office, 215,000 sq. ft. for the 300-room hotel, 45,000 sq. ft. for restaurants and retail, and 500 parking spaces. It would include a 40,250-sq. ft. athletic center on the upper floors that MDC could utilize. Since this is the only project without condos, MDC wouldn’t have to wait for the developer to ink enough pre-sales to get started.

The financial considerations might change during negotiations. As it stands with the original proposals, both the Related Group and Nader would give MDC some proceeds of the condo sales, although the maximum award would be $35 million for Nader versus $5.3 million for the Related Group. The Nader proposal would offer MDC $45 million in participation while the Related Group would make a $1 million scholarship donation.


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