The Real Deal Miami

Miami Dade College downtown proposals set to be evaluated

Presentations, of up to three hours, each, are expected on March 17 and 18

February 01, 2016 02:15PM
By Ina Cordle

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Developers and the MDC site

From left: Gary Nader, Jorge Brugo, Jorge Perez, Gregg Covin and Chad Oppenheim and the 520 Biscayne Boulevard site

Miami Dade College will hire a technical consultant and the four groups vying to develop its prime downtown site will answer questions, then make presentations in mid-March before they are ranked, evaluation committee members decided on Monday.

The college is soliciting a developer to enter into a public/private partnership for the 2.6 acre parcel currently used as a surface parking area at the college’s Wolfson Campus. The proposals include a cultural center with a 1,600-seat performing arts theater, a conference center that can house 3,000 people, a museum measuring at least 100,000 square feet, and parking.

Gregg Covin and Chad Oppenheim; Gary Nader, Roberto Rocha and FR-EE Architects; Jorge Brugo; and Jorge Perez’s Related Group are all going head-to-head for a mixed-use project at the 520 Biscayne Boulevard site.

All the four proposals were considered “responsive,” or met the required criteria, Roman Martinez, group director of purchasing told attendees an evaluation committee meeting Monday morning.

“There are four excellent proposals,” said Rolando Montoya, provost of Miami Dade College. “The quality of the four of them is superb. It’s incredible, I am very happy with what we have received.”

As a next step, the college’s evaluation committee will send out questions on the proposals to the bidders on Feb 17, and the responses will be due by March 2. Then the groups will make presentations of up to three hours, each, during the week of March 14 — likely on March 17 and 18, the committee members decided. Committee members will then rank them on a scale of 1-to-100.

Though the proposals have not yet been made public, two of the groups proposed independent conference centers and theaters, and two proposed joint conference centers and theaters. One proposes to be a fee-based developer, while the other three propose “to build it all, soup to nuts, and deliver it,” said Frank Zohn, CEO of Ashlin Corp., who is serving as a real estate and development consultant to Miami Dade College.

On Jan 19, when the bids were due, only the names of the bidders were released by Miami Dade College:

  • Gregg Covin Development/Oppenheim Architecture
  • Nader+Museu | Limited Liability Limited Partnership
  • Pi Art Tech and Trade Center at MDC, LLC
  • The Related Group

Nader proposal

Miami Dade College earlier this year received an unsolicited proposal for the Nader Latin American Art Museum from a group of partners that includes Miami art gallery owner Nader; Rocha, CEO of Sofran Group; FR-EE Architects and others, which prompted the college to put out a “supplemental information package,” requesting bids.

Now, Covin and Oppenheim are back in the bidding after being among those competing for the site eight years ago. In addition to a museum, performing arts center and conference center, Covin and Oppenheim had told TRD they are proposing retail, office and multifamily components and a university-level athletic center.

“We thought the right route was to incorporate everything together as a massive expansion of the college. It’s an incredibly important institution for Miami,” Covin had said.


Gregg Covin and Chad Oppenheim’s proposal

“As far as design, Chad has created an amazing iconic design that is more academic in nature, and we feel appropriate for a college campus,” he said.

“We just believe Miami deserves more than another condo tower,” Oppenheim had said.

Pi Art Tech and Trade Center at MDC LLC, an entity created Jan. 11, is led by Brugo, Florida incorporation records show. According to his LinkedIn page, Brugo is a real estate entrepreneur, co-founder of LuxurInvest LLC, the founder of Spainvestment and founder and president of Axis Realty Trust.

Related is also bidding, and Arquitectonica founder Bernardo Fort-Brescia had told TRD that his firm is partnering with Related on the planned proposal.

In addition to the Latin American art museum, the 69-page proposal from Nader and partners includes a performing arts theater, sculpture garden and conference center, as well as two residential towers with 528 units, a condo-hotel with 144 units, a restaurant space and parking.

It’s the second time in a decade that Miami Dade College has looked for development proposals for its key property. In 2007, the college put out an “Invitation to Negotiate” for the site, but ended up shelving the plan amid the real estate downturn, before choosing a winner. Proposers included a partnership between developer Covin and architect Oppenheim, but no finalist or winner was selected, according to a college spokesman.

Evaluation committee members now include Montoya and other college leaders: E.H. Levering, senior vice president of business affairs and CFO; Neyda Otero, interim vice provost, facilities management; Roy Martinez, associate vice provost, facilities management; and Yaremis Ponce Fullana, interim senior director of campus administrative services.