Consultant Military Museum Would Work
Written by Ruby Madren-Britton on July 12, 2007
By Ruby Madren-Britton
A military museum at the old headquarters of Richmond Naval Air Station in South Miami-Dade would be economically viable, a consultant’s report concludes.
A concept feasibility report from international consulting firm Lord Cultural Resources says a museum would fill a niche in a region underrepresented by military museums. "This represents a market gap for the new Military Museum of South Florida to fill," the consultants for the project to be funded by a $2 million voter-approved bond allocation concluded.
The report also said the location near Miami MetroZoo would result in "significantly more visitors" being exposed to the museum.
Four master plan reports are to be presented to county officials before construction is approved. The county made two $50,000 allocations to fund the reports, which are to include architectural plans, a marketing plan, an engineering plan and results of the Lord firm’s economic-feasibility study.
Kevin Asher, supervisor of special projects for the county Parks and Recreation Department, said the reports must demonstrate that costs would not exceed benefits and that the museum would be self-sustaining. He also said the reports would need to show that a military museum is a good fit alongside expansion of the MetroZoo area into a $1 billion entertainment district that is to include a water park, a theme park and resort hotels.
Anthony D. Atwood, executive director of Friends of the Military Museum and Veterans Memorial of South Florida, said that with the analysis and evaluation reports completed, he hopes construction of the museum is on the horizon.
"Realistically, I would like to have construction starting in September," said Mr. Atwood, a Florida International University history professor.
He said he had hoped for a 2008 finish, though the lengthy planning process has pushed back a timetable. "Everything goes through a very stringent vetting process."
The museum is to be on county land next to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. The plan is to move the 12,000-square-foot naval headquarters one-fifth mile from its current location on federal land.
The county envisions transforming the site into a family destination and the military museum’s mission must fit in, supporters say.
The master-plan reports were prepared by R.J. Heisenbottle Architects, a Coral Gables firm, and Lord Cultural Resources, a worldwide company specializing in historic and cultural preservation. They previously worked together on the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Mr. Atwood said he hopes the reports will lead to county approval. "I really want to see this project go through," he said. "There is such a large veteran community, and we really ought to have something in Miami-Dade County to honor them."