Arts center readying agreements for 1,500 parking spaces
By Suzy Valentine
Miami Performing Arts Center's parking task force is preparing agreements for suppliers of 1,500 temporary spaces it hopes to secure by February.
Arts Center President Michael Hardy said he hopes to have a temporary parking solution in place six months ahead of opening. The target date for completion of the symphony hall and ballet opera house is Aug. 4, 2006.
"We've been identifying the existing garages within two blocks," Mr. Hardy said. "We would sign up garages to guarantee that they'll offer us evening capacity in exchange for our willingness to market their garages in our literature. In the interim parking plan, our goal is to get 1,500 of the closest parking spaces we can until the eventual garages get built."
Roger Carlton, vice president of Affiliated Computer Services, and Javier Soto, former chief of staff to Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas who was hired by the arts center as a parking consultant, are working on the documents. Officials are still talking with Argent, purchaser of the former Omni International Mall at Northeast 15th Street, about stopgap solutions to the lack of parking at the center.
Talks have also been held with the county's school board for garages to the north of the arts center at Northeast Second Avenue. Another possibility is the site of a future project by developer Leviev Boymelgreen, west of the ballet opera house and Northeast Second Avenue.
The best prospect for the arts center's permanent parking needs lies on land owned by the Terra Group. The development company bought 10 acres from Knight Ridder, parent company of the Miami Herald, to the west of the Herald's building.
Mr. Hardy said Terra could provide a third of the required spaces.
"We're getting very good signals from CEO Pedro and COO David Martin," Mr. Hardy said, "for a 500- to 700-space garage."
The timeframe for closing those talks is uncertain.
"Terra is being very cooperative, but nothing will be finalized until it has closed on the purchase of the property," said Mr. Hardy, "and it has finalized its development plan."
A parking space costs $12,000 to $15,000 to provide on a 10-year average basis, said Benton Launerts, director of marketing for Park One.
A further acquisition by the Florida Department of Transportation, said Mr. Hardy, could provide temporary or permanent spaces.
"The department did acquire the land to the south of the center," he said referring to land owned by Avra Jain, developer of the abandoned Opus project at 1237 Biscayne Blvd. that stretches to Interstate 395.
"Not all of the parcels have been purchased by the department," said Mr. Hardy, "and our next step is to meet with the department and Assistant County Manager Bill Johnson to see where we go from there with the piece of land that has been designated as a parking area, south of the ballet opera house."
The architects had participated in the discussions, he said.
"I've also had some conversations with [senior associate architect] Roberto Espejo, [lead architect] Cesar Pelli and the Cesar Pelli & Associates office about some ideas they'd like to bring forward for that land," said Mr. Hardy, "which might include some additional parking there.
Parking garage operators have their own concerns, he said.
"What we're discovering as we start talking to companies such as Argent is that they want to make parking available to us but they also want to be able to say that, if there's a convention in the hotel, it may not all be available on a given night," Mr. Hardy said.
"We're probably going to develop a Zone A preferred parking and Zone B overflow parking for those areas over which we don't have 100% guarantee."
How much patrons will be charged to use temporary or permanent parking has yet to be determined.
"This will be the decision of the parking lot operators," Mr. Hardy said. "We will encourage them to keep it as reasonable as possible."
A feasibility study by Barry Abramson presented a formula of one space for every 2.7 users of the center. The figure of 1,500 spaces is based on this calculation and forecasts about optimum use of the 4,800-capacity center.
A combination of spaces should deliver the requisite spaces, Mr. Hardy said.
"The two best options, to the east and west of the center, fulfill 100% of our parking needs."