Westchester Cultural Arts Center on the way
West Miami-Dade residents will soon have a cultural arts center that will offer educational, recreational and community activities.
At a groundbreaking June 26, the Westchester Cultural Arts Center continued a long journey that began 16 years ago. Located at the main entrance of Tropical Park, it is to provide cultural programming focusing on Hispanic arts and be used as a school for the arts for students, all year round.
Construction is to take about 12 months. After the building is commissioned, making sure everything works properly, the state-of-the-art facility will be ready for a grand opening, said Michael Spring, the county’s Department of Cultural Affairs director.
Initiated by area county Commissioner Javier Souto, the development of the cultural arts center has been a long-time project that was funded in 2004 when Miami-Dade voters approved the Building Better Communities General Obligation Bond program. In June 2008, the county commission determined Tropical Park, at 7900 SW 40th St. was the right spot for the center.
Seven years later, in July 2015, architectural, engineering and specialty consultants Zyscovich Architects Inc. completed the design phase. The $7.3 million budgeted construction contract was scheduled to be completed by end of 2017, with a projected grand opening by the end of 2018.
“One of the main delays was that all of the bids were over the county’s budget. We had re-do them and make sure they fit within the budget, which was successfully done,” Mr. Spring said.
The 11,000 square feet of new construction will include a 150-seat main theater building with a lobby area, which will serve as an art gallery for rotating exhibitions. The cultural arts center will be built by TGSV Enterprises Inc., a construction company selected through a competitive process.
“We have a beautifully-designed cultural arts center right on the busiest parts of the county, which will provide the best of recreational use and the arts. You can go to the park to play soccer or take an art class,” Mr. Spring said about what the center will bring to a neighborhood that, he says, desperately needed a performing arts center.
Westchester Cultural Arts Center’s inaugural plans will include public artwork by local artist Cristina Lei Rodriguez and future negotiable plans of contracting with a non-profit arts organization to run the new facility, Mr. Spring said. “This new building will bring a lot of attention and artistic visibility to this side of the county.”