Building ban lifted in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables

John Corsi
John Corsi

A moratorium on new development in Coconut Grove and parts of Coral Gables has been lifted after Miami-Dade County completed necessary repairs to water pump stations in those areas.

The county was able to finish upgrades to a pair of pump stations in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables in advance of a Nov. 30 deadline agreed upon by Miami-Dade and City of Miami officials, according to a county announcement released Monday. In addition to the resumption of development, new businesses now have the go-ahead to open offices and stores in both places. Each station had been deemed non-compliant for at least a year.

Those stations had reached sewage capacity, so surrounding neighborhoods could not have additional toilets, sinks or showers built until necessary fixes were made. That meant no additional residences or businesses could be constructed.

But a broader moratorium persists in pockets throughout the county, including portions of North Miami. A decision made by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez last week could further delay the return of construction in affected areas. Gimenez announced a new committee would be formed to review proposals by AECOM, a Los Angeles-based Fortune 500 company that provides technical and management services in a variety of markets, and CH2M Hill, an Englewood-Colo.-based consulting, design, construction and operations services firm, to manage the $1.6 billion upgrade to the county’s sewer system to eliminate sewage overflows.

An independent selection committee had previously reviewed the plans submitted by both firms and ranked CH2M Hill first. AECOM representatives cried foul, citing irregularities in the selection process. Gimenez opted for a new committee to “cure the irregularities,” according to a written statement from his office.

Miami-Dade commissioners are expected to address the status of the project during today’s meeting.

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Not surprisingly, CH2M representatives are fuming over the mayor’s decision.

“A record level of inbound investment is pouring into Miami’s real estate market, and yet numerous developments are stalled,” John Corsi, CH2M’s vice president of global media and public relations, told The Real Deal. “These projects will remain on hold until the county begins overhauling its aging sewer system. Miami-Dade has undertaken a comprehensive and transparent procurement process to select a company to manage this project and CH2M Hill has been identified as the most qualified team.”

The county agreed to invest in major upgrades to its wastewater treatment plants and wastewater collection and transmission systems in a June settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To satisfy the Clean Water Act, the county must finish the rehabilitation within 15 years and implement permanent management and maintenance programs to ensure the county does not experience future sewage overflows.

Miami-Dade reported 211 sewage overflows totaling more than 51 million gallons between January 2007 and May 2013.

The next residential building boom in the county could put even more pressure on its infrastructure.

About 175 condo towers totaling nearly 22,600 units are currently proposed in South Florida, according to Condo Vultures. Most of the preconstruction activity is concentrated in Miami-Dade, with a particular emphasis on Miami’s Central Business District and the county’s coastal markets. That does not include a spate of rental apartment development planned for growing cities like Doral.