Tensions spur Miami Dade College to terminate bidding for downtown project

College said it plans to evaluate its option for redeveloping the site in the future

Oct.October 17, 2016 02:00 PM

UPDATED Oct. 17, 3:25 p.m.: Following months of a contentious bidding process marred by litigation from Gary Nader’s team, Miami Dade College has decided to put an end to the competition to develop its prime downtown site. 

After a board of trustees meeting on Monday, the college said it dismissed the bid protest filed by the Nader team “and concluded that the college followed all of its procedures” and properly selected the Related team as the first-ranked proposer.  However, “due to several risks associated with the project, many the direct result of the hostile conduct of a single proposer, the board decided to move in a different direction and terminate this process.”

Miami Dade College said it plans to “evaluate its options” for redeveloping the site in the future.

Negotiations with the Related Group have been on hold for several weeks, first as litigation played out, then awaiting a Board of Trustees’ decision to move forward.

This summer, Nader and his team filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court demanding access to public records related to the bidding process. Nader+Museu also had filed a bid protest as well as a lawsuit related to the $2.3 million bond required for the bid protest. Amid the litigation, the entire bidding process had halted and was placed on hold.

While Miami Dade College had not yet awarded a contract in the months-long process to develop the 2.6-acre site at 520 Biscayne Boulevard into a mixed-use project in a public-private partnership, its evaluation committee had ranked the Related Group as the top bidder. Nader+Museu was ranked second.

“We feel that is unfortunate,” said Bill Riley, a partner with GrayRobinson who represents Nader+Museu, of the college’s decision. “It’s a big loss for the community.”

Riley said Nader’s team has spent more than $4 million so far on the proposal, and refuted any allegation that Nader was hostile. “There was hostile behavior, and all the hostile behavior came from Related and the college’s outside counsel,” he said. “Accusations to the contrary are unfounded.”

A request for comment from Related was not immediately returned.

Related’s proposal included a 75-story condominium tower, a 39-story office tower, a 100-room hotel and private club. Nader+Museu’s proposal included two 50-story residential towers, a hotel, restaurant and culinary market.

The college had been soliciting a developer to enter into a public/private partnership for the Biscayne Boulevard site, which is currently used as a surface parking area at the college’s Wolfson Campus. The proposals each had to 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.

Miami Dade College had received an unsolicited proposal for the Nader Latin American Art Museum last year from Nader’s group, which prompted the college to put out bid packages. Proposals were due in January. Gregg Covin and Chad Oppenheim; Nader, Roberto Rocha and FR-EE Architects; Jorge Brugo; and Jorge Perez’s Related Group had all gone head-to-head for a mixed-use project at the site.

Following a Miami Dade College evaluation committee meeting in July, the college issued “a notice of intended decision” to recommend it negotiate a contract with Related.

Riley said Nader’s team will continue to pursue its public records lawsuit. “We are confident,” he said, “that the real story and the whole story and the truth will come out.”

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