Performing arts center costs may rise by millions to keep Miami project rising on schedule
By Frank Norton
With the performing arts center at least five months behind schedule, Miami-Dade County may spend an added $5.7 million - partially to defend against further delays.
County commissioners today (1/23) are to hear two separate proposals to spend up to $3.3 on crews to speed progress and $2.4 million on interior designs.
Most of the money would come from the project's $18 million contingency fund and be used largely to stave off further construction delays, said County Manager Steve Shiver, who is recommending approval.
So far, builders have dipped into only about $70,000 of the fund, said Michael Hardy, the planned center's president and CEO.
"That's pretty good considering a project of this magnitude," he said.
Center planners say they want the $3.3 million to mitigate against future delays by beefing up crews and expanding services that help speed construction.
According to Project Director Gail Thompson, understaffed design and construction management teams caused late steel shipments that led to previous delays.
Separately, the county may also authorize up to $2.4 million to reinstate previously omitted design elements of the two-building center.
The biggest chunk would bring back plans for an industrial-grade lift in the ballet/opera house, estimated at $1.1 million. The lift would expedite scene changes and enable more shows to be put on, ultimately increasing the hall's use, Mr. Hardy said.
Remaining funds would finance a fancier donor wall rather than the one now in the budget.
While the construction budget is about $255 million, the total project including soft costs is estimated at $370 million.
The Performing Arts Center Foundation, the project's fundraising arm, has agreed to pay for the lift and wall elements since those elements would enhance operations and aesthetics at the complex.
"It's always a big assumption when you say you're going to raise more money," Mr. Hardy said of the trust's pledge to raise added donations for the items. "But they said they would raise $80 million and they've already got $50."
If donations aren't sufficient, trust executives are pushing for Regional Cultural Facilities Act funds to finance up to $2.5 million a year for up to four years, thus covering shortages, Mr. Shiver said. Results of that request are months away.
Meanwhile, performing arts planners hired Strategic Council of Toronto and Miami-based Market Center Group to first gather demographic and attendance data from the center's five resident performing groups and later build a marketing strategy using scheduling, pricing, programming and servicing variables.
"I love it here," said Mr. Hardy, former president of the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville. "You really encounter so much diversity in the community here and that raises tremendous challenges and opportunities for developing successful programming."