New county money puts South Dade cultural center back on track
By Marilyn Bowden
More than half of $19.8 million set aside for neighborhood projects as part of the $255 million performing arts budget the county commission approved last week will go toward construction of a regional performing arts center in South Miami-Dade.
The Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Department's Marie Denis, construction project manager for the South Miami-Dade Cultural Center, said the $10.06 million allocated will go toward the entire complex, which will consist of a 1,000-seat theater and an activity center connected by a plaza.
Final numbers are still being worked out, she said, but the project's total cost is expected to run $25 million to $30 million.
The Miami-Dade County Commission expressed its intent to finance a performing arts center in South Miami-Dade center in July 1993.
The county paid $1 million for 6.5 acres on Southwest 211th Street, next to the South Miami-Dade Government Center and across from Cutler Ridge Mall.
"The facility has been talked about by the community in South Miami-Dade for years," said Michael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Department.
"Those conversations reached an apex after Hurricane Andrew. There was a feeling that a cultural arts center could help the community recover from Andrew."
In April 1997, commissioners voted to use excess convention development tax revenues to pay for it.
The current project budget, approved in conjunction with the county's 2000-01 budget process, is comprised of $17.5 million from convention development tax bond proceeds, $250,000 from a Safe Neighborhoods Parks Bond allocation and available interest on these revenues to the tune of $4.8 million.
Ms. Denis said she anticipates private donations will be solicited further down the road.
"We've just finished the schematic design with Arquitectonica," she said. "We should be finished with all design work by mid to late 2002, with construction immediately following and completion of the entire project by late 2004.
"We're very excited that everything is a go," Ms. Denis said. "It looks very optimistic at the moment. We had a town meeting and the project was very well-received.
"A lot of people who had been involved for many years want to see it come to fruition."
County Manager Merrett Stierheim said the funds for neighborhood projects will be available soon and will not be held up by the six-month pre-construction period that is expected to determine the final budget for construction of the downtown performing arts center.
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