The Real Deal Miami

Frost Museum opening could be delayed to 2017

Project is about 80 percent completed as of July 1, according to general contractor

July 19, 2016 10:30AM
By Sean Stewart-Muniz

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Rendering of the finished museum (Credit: Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science)

Rendering of the finished museum (Credit: Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science)

Though the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science’s funding crisis appears to be behind it, the $305 million project could still end up being delayed into early 2017.

According to a newly released progress report from Miami-Dade County, construction work for the downtown Miami museum stood at about 80 percent as of July 1.

Skanska, the general contractor, has put forth a preliminary schedule saying the project would be ready for its temporary certificate of occupancy by February 9, 2017.

The report said Skanska’s proposed timeline hasn’t been approved by museum officials or Hill International, the project’s manager. It also said the project is working on a “recovery schedule” that hopes to bring the opening date closer to December 2016.

A museum representative told The Real Deal that the county’s report shows a construction schedule from April, and that the museum is on track for its temporary certificate of occupancy by the end of this year.

Aerial of construction progress at the museum as of May

Aerial of construction progress for the museum, located at 1101 Biscayne Boulevard, as of May

Museum executives have previously said they’re shooting for an year-end 2016 opening, though an exact date was never given following the recent funding crisis. The project fell into serious financial trouble when the original $165 million in county funding evaporated before construction was completed, and the museum failed to secure a construction loan to close the gap.

With monthly payments of up to $7 million to its general contractor looming, the crisis culminated in a controversial $45 million bailout from the county. As part of the bailout, the county stipulated that the museum had to give a progress report every 60 days.

Work continued at the site, but the museum’s governance was purged in the fallout: In February, the Frosts canned the museum’s board of trustees and installed new members, including Patricia Frost herself. And in June, Gillian Thomas, the museum’s president and CEO of 13 years, announced her resignation less than a year ahead of the opening of the project she was tasked to oversee.

As Thomas told The Real Deal on a May tour of the project, its design and size — five stories and 250,000 square feet — remained unchanged despite the funding shortfall. However, several of the planned exhibits won’t make it to the opening date, though they hope to include them later.