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Front Page » Top Stories » County Discussing Parking Garage For Carnival Center

County Discussing Parking Garage For Carnival Center

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Written by on October 26, 2006

By Eric Kalis
Miami-Dade County officials are working on a deal with the developer of the City Square project in which the county would build a 1,600-car parking garage for use by the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.

Assistant County Manager Roger Carlton said Tuesday that he and Maefield Development CEO Mark Siffin have been meeting regularly to explore construction of a garage that would span the block north of the Knight Concert Hall. Maefield is expected to buy the land from the McClatchy Co. soon.

The garage would provide 1,500 weatherproof parking spaces for center patrons, Mr. Carlton said, with 100 more spaces set aside for Biscayne Boulevard shoppers.

The garage would be built on the residential portion of the company’s City Square project, which is expected to be completed in 2012. City Square is to have 695,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 1,500 residential units. The project would be built on parking lots that now serve the Miami Herald building.

Maefield officials originally planned to allocate 1,500 spaces to the center in its retail parking garage. They recently changed their minds after determining that there would be enough space in the garage only to accommodate the retail shops, Mr. Carlton said. A new garage would be "separate and distinct" from the rest of City Square.

If county officials reach an agreement with Maefield, they would consider building an enclosed walkway connecting the garage to the concert hall, Mr. Carlton said. How to pay for the garage is still being discussed, he said.

The center opened this month with about 2,000 interim parking spaces.

Miami-Dade County officials made a bevy of permanent parking suggestions for the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts during a committee meeting last week and promised to produce final recommendations next month.

After Assistant County Manager Roger Carlton and center President and CEO Michael Hardy updated the Infrastructure, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee on the county’s possibilities for permanent parking facilities, County Manager George Burgess instructed his staff to report on the best options next week. Mr. Carlton said the report will be brought to the committee Nov. 15.

The center opened this month with about 2,000 interim parking spaces, an arrangement that has worked well so far, Mr. Carlton said. None of the long-term options would come cheaply, he said.

"The long-term parking solutions boil down to money and land," Mr. Carlton said. "Land costs are extra around the center. There are different proposals out there that we want to bring to the next [committee] meeting. There may be more than one solution."

Commissioner Carlos Gimenez directed Mr. Carlton to analyze traffic flow at the center and surrounding streets, citing several complaints he had received about congestion from center patrons, before returning next month with final recommendations.

"My concern is that before we make final decisions to look at access and egress," Mr. Gimenez said, "we should do a traffic study before determining what parcels to buy. We have to get it right the first time."

Mr. Carlton said the county is working with the Miami Police Department to better coordinate traffic control as construction continues on Biscayne Boulevard.

One option is to make a deal with Maefield Development for the county to build a 1,600-car garage spanning the entire block north of the Knight Concert Hall, Mr. Carlton said. The garage would rise on the residential portion of the company’s City Square development on parking lots at the Miami Herald building.

Another realistic possibility is having Charleville Development Corp. build a 12-story garage on land it owns at Northeast Second Avenue and 13th Street and allocate 600 parking spaces to the center, Mr. Carlton said. The county is also exploring striking a deal with the owners of a high-rise building nearby on Northeast 13th Street to use 500 spaces in their parking garage, he said.

The county owns land on Northeast 13th Street that could house a two-story garage with hundreds of valet and VIP spaces, Mr. Carlton said. A taller garage would obstruct some residents’ view of the center, he said, so it could not go beyond two stories.

Other permanent parking options include:

nBuilding a garage on bus terminal land on Northeast 15th Street and Biscayne Boulevard to provide 500 more spaces.

nCreating a lot or garage on Northeast Second Street with 1,000 spaces. Mr. Carlton said this would be very feasible.

nCommissioner Javier Souto suggested using the parking building at Jackson Memorial Hospital and offering shuttle service to the center. He said the building is empty at night.

"We are talking about a lot of possibilities," Mr. Carlton said. "We are aware of the critical need [for permanent parking]. The plan is to bring back our priorities next month."