Congress Stymies Southcom Headquarters Project
Written by Eric Kalis on December 7, 2006
By Eric Kalis
Plans to build a new US Southern Command headquarters next to the existing complex in Doral were halted by a congressional committee that wants the project done more cost-efficiently.
The House Armed Services Committee did not approve the Pentagon’s November proposal to lease a 709,000-square-foot headquarters and 40 acres from the state next to the current complex at 3511 NW 91st Ave. A spokesperson for the Department of Management Services, which oversaw bidding for the project, said the committee directed SouthCom officials to pursue military construction funding in early 2007 when the fiscal 2008 budget goes to Congress.
A spokesperson for US Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, whose district includes the headquarters site, said the vote against the build-to-lease arrangement does not mean SouthCom will leave South Florida when its lease from the General Services Administration expires in 2008. The committee would rather the Pentagon own the building and lease only the land from the state to save money by avoiding market fluctuations, the spokesperson said.
Mr. Diaz-Balart said by email that "retaining SouthCom in South Florida is a very high priority for me…. SouthCom is committed to staying in Miami. The creation of a permanent Department of Defense facility in South Florida will help cement SouthCom’s presence in our community for many years to come."
Augustin Barrera, managing principal for the Miami offices of Leo Daly Architects, involved in Flagler Development Co.’s bid for the project, said the company, which built the present headquarters in 1997, has not decided if it will start over with a new bid.
Pentagon officials say a new complex is needed to adequately protect the unified command, whose mission is to protect US interests in the Caribbean and Latin America.