Miami-Dade College downtown tract draws interest
By Dan Dolan
Miami Dade College already has a few nibbles on its request for a public-private joint venture to develop 2.6 acres of prime land at its Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami, a school official said this week.
Just days after the development process began, several local and national investors contacted the nation's largest college for details on the plan to build a commercial project and a 250,000-square-foot education facility at 520 Biscayne Blvd., the school spokesman said.
In exchange for land lease and air rights, Miami Dade College wants a developer to foot the bill for building the school's arts center and an income-producing property, which could include retail space, condos, offices, a hotel or a parking garage, according to the school's request for proposals.
"We're open to different ideas," said spokesman Juan C. Mendieta. "We're asking prospective bidders to present their vision for the project."
So far, Miami Dade College's vision includes at least two towers more than five stories tall. One would house a 500-seat theater, a 12,500-square-foot art gallery, a 9,000-square-foot dance studio, the Miami International Film Festival, the Florida Center for Literary Arts as well as classrooms and administrative offices for its College of Cultural Affairs.
The second tower, and any other building, could contain a mix of retail, residential and commercial space, the school's plan says. Miami Dade College would retain ownership of the land, which it bought two years ago for $24.9 million. The developer would recoup its investment through rents, though the company would have to pay real estate taxes on its portion of the project, Mr. Mendieta said.
Prospective investors have until March 16 to submit proposals. School officials will review plans, then enter into formal negotiations with a developer by the end of April. A contract will be awarded in October, according to a timeline in the school's request for proposals.
"As a public college, we have some financial limitations," said Rolando Montoya, president of the 27,000-student Wolfson Campus. "We are lucky we already own the land. Our funds for construction are limited. That's why we're looking for a partner for the arts center."
The Biscayne Boulevard site, which is bounded by Northeast Second Avenue and Northeast Fifth and Sixth streets, is prime real estate, school officials said. The lot, which is currently used for surface parking, features water views and easy access to mass transit.
The school's purchasing department is accepting proposals, but hasn't put a price tag on the project, the spokesman said.
Details: www.mdc.edu/purchasing/bids or (305) 237-7575.