In-kind services line city pact for children's museum
By Paola Iuspa
Miami Children's Museum officials, trying to build a home of their own, have reached an agreement with city officials about rent payments for a site on Watson Island.
The museum, now renting space at the Miami Arena, 701 Arena Blvd., will pay the city of Miami $2 a year, $75,000 in in-kind donations in lieu of taxes and will offer a 50% discount to city residents.
Because the land is owned by the city, it is not taxed. To replace the money the city won't get, museum's officials agreed to provide the $75,000 in in-kind donations.
The donations could be in the form of free field trips for city schools or working with its recreation department to create educational programs, city commissioners decided last week.
Deborah Spiegelman, interim executive director for the museum, said the next step would be signing the lease and getting a building permit.
With about half of the $14 million building cost raised and construction documents and exhibition plans ready, Ms. Spiegelman said work on the museum could start by mid-2001.
"We think it would take 16 to 18 months to be completed," she said.
The two-story, 53,000-square-foot museum will be four times larger than its current site, according to a report prepared for the commission. It will include 22,000 square feet of exhibit space, eight galleries for permanent and temporary exhibits, two classrooms, a parent-teacher resource center, a 200-seat auditorium, a center for performers with disabilities, and an outdoor exhibition and dining area.
The non-profit educational group, created in 1983 as the Miami Youth Museum, received the commission's OK in July to build the new structure on Watson Island.
In October, commissioners asked the city's Department of Real Estate & Economic Development to conduct a survey to lean how much children's museums on public property were paying for rent.
"We contacted 25 children's museums,' said Arleen Weintraub, acting director of the department. "And we got answers from 12 of them. All of them paid a nominal $1 per year in rent."
Ms. Weintraub said some museums would pay their cities 3% of revenues after a set number of paid admissions but that number was only surpassed in the venues' first year of operation. "Later they went back to a set rent," she said.