Last parcel in place for Miami Beach cultural campus plan
By Mindy Hagen
After closing on the last needed parcel of land for $1.5 million, the City of Miami Beach has finalized its plans for a Collins Park cultural arts campus for the Bass Museum of Art, a headquarters and school for Miami City Ballet and a regional library.
City Manager Jorge Gonzalez said 12,500 square feet of land known as the Ablon parcel was necessary for the project because the city had bought two adjoining pieces for the new library.
Ron Bloomberg, founder and president of American Riviera Real Estate Co sold the land.
Located along Collins Avenue from 21st to 22nd streets, the cultural campus will also include renovations to Collins Park and improved sidewalks and landscaping, Mr. Gonzalez said.
The entire project will cost about $23 million, he said. The Miami City Ballet paid to move its headquarters to the site from Lincoln Road.
With a bid for design of the site expected to be approved by September, Mr. Gonzalez said the whole area should be complete near the beginning of 2004.
"We wanted to bring together these three important art, cultural and learning facilities around the park, which has great historical significance," Mr. Gonzalez said. "Now the community will be able to not only enjoy the park, but visit the facilities. We just needed the land to fit everything in."
Mr. Gonzalez said the old library building would be demolished. The new facility will double the library's size and include additional rooms for computers.
The City of Miami Beach has had plans to build a larger library since it entered into an agreement with Miami-Dade County seven years ago stipulating the county would finance it if the city built it.
Mr. Gonzalez said a 1996 planning study looked at 11 sites for the library before recommending the Bass Museum and Collins Park location.
The Bass Museum expansion by more than 20,000 square feet is complete and includes a new gallery area, a cafe and a shop.
Collins Park will also be redesigned with added landscaping, sculptures, gardens and benches.
"We want to bring the park back to what it used to be," Mr. Gonzalez said. "It will have 1920s-era pathways connecting the buildings and for peaceful enjoyment by the community."
But plans for the cultural campus could not be finalized until Mr. Bloomberg agreed last month to sell his land to the city. Mr. Bloomberg was originally upset at the city's proposal, saying they only offered him $400,000 for land he intended to develop.
Although he called the city's initial offer "unrealistic," Mr. Bloomberg said he is "100% in favor of the cultural arts campus&quont-Tfter receiving $1.5 million in a settlement for the land.