New opera house may become part of mixed-use project
By Suzy Valentine
An opera headquarters planned as a freestanding building opposite the Miami Performing Arts Center could form part of a mixed-use development that may be completed late in 2007.
The opera company is in talks with an undisclosed developer.
The Florida Grand Opera Anderson Opera Center is to occupy land on Northeast 15th Street between Northeast Second Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard. The opera company had planned that a freestanding venue would be ready at the same time as the arts center, which is slated to be completed Aug. 4.
The two-building arts center is to have its own ballet opera house.
Florida Grand Opera officials are studying options to consider what makes most financial sense.
"We want to be certain to maximize the revenues for this project," said Les Greenwald, director of public relations. "The opera house opening will not coincide with that of the arts center. It's likely to be late 2007 or early 2008.
"It could be part of a commercial or residential complex," Mr. Greenwald said. "There hasn't been a proposal. We could build vertically rather than horizontally."
He wouldn't say how long opera officials will evaluate before deciding. "Rather than rush into anything, we'd rather evaluate every option," said Mr. Greenwald. "There's a parcel of land, and we have to decide what's best for it. We could just have the Anderson Opera Center, or it could form part of a larger development.
"As soon as we can accumulate the data we need and we're furnished with the facts, then we can proceed."
The opera's headquarters is to include a theater, a rehearsal hall, a library, a costume and wigs shop, offices and accommodation for performers. The company's original plans provided 130,000 square feet, a theater that would seat 500, 24 residential units for young and visiting artists, a restaurant and a 300-car garage.
Florida Grand Opera appointed Maleta Construction Co. to build the structure designed by Coral Gables architect Raul Rodriguez, a partner in Rodriguez & Quiroga.
The center is to be named after longtime board member James Byrd Anderson Jr., who made the lead gift.
Florida Grand Opera budgeted $30 million for the project - a figure that may have to be revised.
"Until we have the final configuration for the project," said Mr. Greenwald, "we shan't be able to put a dollar figure on it."
The $30 million allocated to the project includes a $5 million award from Miami-Dade County's $2.9 billion General Obligation Bond. Florida Grand Opera received $4 million in the first issue in July and is slated to receive the remaining $1 million next year.
However, the county determined that allocation on the basis of the schedule the company was using earlier this year and has discretion to revise its timetable.
The Miami-Dade Industrial Development Authority has approved up to $25 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance construction. Florida Grand Opera must repay the contribution over 30 years.