Frost family cans museum board, issues loan to save project

Fundraising failure left project's future in doubt

Feb.February 10, 2016 04:30 PM

Miami’s troubled Museum of Science project has been bailed out by its namesake family: Phillip and Patricia Frost.

The Frosts gave the $305 million project a bridge loan to keep construction work moving while Miami-Dade County officials explore new funding options, according to a release from the Patricia and Phillip Frost Musuem of Science. Earlier this year, the museum project ran into serious financial trouble when fundraising efforts fell short of its goal and the search for a construction loan came up empty.

On top of that, almost all of the $160 million pledged to the museum by Miami-Dade has already been spent. That left doubt over whether the museum could pay its $5 million to $7 million monthly bill to general contractor Skanska, as previously reported.

Although the Frosts have bailed out the project for now, they requested that the museum’s board of trustees be replaced. The previous board was in charge of the museum’s fundraising campaign that missed the mark — though it had reached $103 million in private donations late last year.

Trish and Dan Bell, the board’s previous co-chairs of 11 years, were given honorary positions as they make way for their replacements.

The new board will initially consist of: Patricia Frost herself; Cesar Alvarez, senior chair of law firm Greenberg Traurig; and Richard Pfenniger, previously CEO of healthcare company Continucare.

Despite the project’s series of shakeups, which included switching general contractors mid-construction, museum officials said in the release that the final cost is expected to fall within the original budget of $305 million. The board also expects that the museum’s grand opening will still take place by the end of this year— Sean Stewart-Muniz

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