Russell Galbut wants to redevelop Miami-Dade courthouse in exchange for $1.8B over 99-year lease

Renderings of Dade County Courthouse (Credit: Kobi Karp)
Renderings of Dade County Courthouse (Credit: Kobi Karp)

Developer Russell Galbut made an unsolicited offer to build Miami-Dade a new, $300 million courthouse in exchange for a 99-year lease and the right to redevelop the existing courthouse. 

Under Galbut’s proposal, his firm Crescent Heights would collect at least $18 million a year in rent from the county on the new 35-story courthouse, which would be built on a lot across the street at 54 West Flagler Street. At $18 million, it would amount to nearly $1.8 billion over 99 years. Galbut would get to convert the historic courthouse, which was built in 1928, into a high-end office tower with retail and restaurants on the ground floor.

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The developer submitted his plan in February, but it was only recently made public, the Miami Herald reported. The 28-story building, at 73 West Flagler Street, has been in disrepair for years, and plans to redevelop or renovate the Dade County Courthouse have failed to move forward due to the cost. In 2014, voters rejected a $219 million bond measure to build a new civil courthouse.

Galbut told the Miami Herald that the annual rent, which would rise slightly every year, would include a stream that Crescent Heights would pay the county back to use the original courthouse that would be redeveloped. Crescent Heights could connect the new and old courthouses via a town square, and both partners could buy their leases out after 30 years and buy the real estate.

“It’s all about saving Flagler Street,” he told the newspaper. [Miami Herald] – Katherine Kallergis