Coral Gables changes direction on Allen Morris and Related’s mixed-use project

City has been trying to redevelop the aging garages for more than two decades
By Katherine Kallergis | March 28, 2019 12:30PM

Jorge Perez, Allen Morris, and a rendering of Coral Gables City Center

The Coral Gables City Commission has a new plan for one of its city-owned garages near Miracle Mile.

The commission voted on first reading on Tuesday to build a replacement for the Garage 1 at 245 Andalusia Avenue, giving itself three years to build a 750-space garage. If, after three years, the city doesn’t develop the garage, the city would move forward with the previous proposal from Coral Gables City Center, a joint venture between the Allen Morris Company and the Related Group. If it does build the first garage, the Morris/Related team would have right of first refusal on a second garage site, Garage 4, at 345 Andalusia Avenue.

The city has been trying to redevelop the aging structures for more than two decades. In January 2017, the Allen Morris/Related venture, the top bidder for the sites at 245 and 345 Andalusia Avenue, began negotiating with the city on the project. Coral Gables City Center planned to build a 750-space garage with ground floor retail and a 245-unit apartment building with ground floor retail on both sites.

Morris said he was frustrated with the city’s vote “because they put me through six years of misery” but said a new garage built by the city would still be good for its residents.

“These dilapidated garages are operating out of code. One garage doesn’t even have an elevator,” Morris said. “It’s an embarrassment to the city.”

Bilzin Sumberg attorney Anthony De Yurre, who represents the Allen Morris and Related partnership, called Tuesday’s vote a win-win. “It’s a win for the residents because the city gets the bite at the apple they wanted to pay for the garage.… Alternatively, it’s a win-win, because, if they don’t, then we get to build it for them and the city saves $50 million in debt payments,” he said.

The city will have to put out a new RFP for the design and build of the garage at 245 Andalusia Avenue.

Still, Morris was disappointed.

“In the last two years, they asked us to redesign the project 24 times. We responded every time,” he said. “I’ve spent six years of my life and millions of dollars only to have these two commissioners flip flop on us at the last minute.”