County close to awarding contract on South Dade Cultural Center
By Suzy Valentine
The contract to build the South Dade Cultural Center may go to the only complete bid received by Miami-Dade County, from the Tower Group, after cost negotiations.
The Department of Cultural Affairs received three bids by an extended deadline of Feb. 2, but two did not meet requirements and were referred to the county attorney.
"Attorneys determined whether the non-responsive bids were going to be considered," said Marie Denis, construction projects manager, "or whether they should be more flexible. They determined that the department should pursue the bid with our responsive bidder."
"Two of the bidders did not correctly submit the required paperwork," said Michael Spring, director of the Department of Cultural Affairs. "We were happy to see the level of interest in the project."
Tower Group is involved in a number of projects in Tampa, Broward County and the Keys but priced the project above the department's budget. It has been selected for the Midtown Miami project.
The cultural-affairs department allocated $34 million to the project, and $10 million was approved in the county's General Obligation Bond issue.
Bidders were asked to bid on work on the main building and an alternative to include an orchestra shell. The Tower Group's proposals, said Ms. Denis, exceeded the $34 million and $44 million targets "but not by much."
"We have some negotiations to do," she said, "after which we need to take it to the commission, and we don't expect to formally award the contract for at least a couple of months."
"We're currently meeting with the company to look at ways in which it can bring the bid down by whatever means are reasonable or necessary," said Mr. Spring. "We're currently working with Tower on its bid with the goal of having it sign a contract."
Center officials are waiting for their allocation from the bond referendum that passed in November.
"We have to factor in the time component," said Ms. Denis. "We have the approval of voters for $10 million, but it's only one little part of the huge number of bond programs to be financed over the next 15 years."
"We're in negotiations to make it workable," said Deborah Margol, the department's deputy director. "We may have to revise some of our plans, but we're working quickly to resolve any issues by meeting regularly with Tower and Arquitectonica.
"There's no fixed timetable for the project," said Ms. Margol, "but let's hope it's a fast one."
In January, the county set a target of this summer to break ground on the cultural center on more than 6 acres of land in the south part of the county. Completion was anticipated in mid-2007.
The project includes two spaces - the main theater building covering 65,000 square feet and an activity center of 7,400 square feet. The theater will house 966 seats and be three floors high with an orchestra and two mezzanine levels.