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Miami Gardens

New Miami Gardens City Hall is behind schedule

In Miami Gardens’ 10th year of incorporation the city dealt with changes in leadership, an increase in high-profile shooting and murder cases and legal trouble near the year’s end.

The city had hoped that the grand opening of the new municipal complex, housing both a new City Hall and police headquarters, would cap off the celebration of the city’s 10-year anniversary.

But, as 2013 has come and gone, chain-link fences still surround the construction site, at Northwest 27th Avenue and 187th Street, and City Hall and the police department still operate in their old space.

“The issues are here and it’s our responsibility to ensure that we get the project done and do it in the right manner,” said City Manager Cameron Benson.

Skanska, the construction contractor, predicts that City Hall will be open by February and the police department headquarters will be ready by May. Benson said he is “cautiously optimistic” about that time line. The original proposed opening was last July, with the police station opening in September.

The delays are also forcing the city to find additional funding, as the project is now over budget.

The city initially received a $55 million bond for the project along with other grants, but are about $7 million over budget due in part to nonbudgeted expenses like forensic testing and builder’s risk insurance, according to Finance Director Patricia Varney.

Benson did not specify what additional sources the city will use for the extra money, but he wants to make it a priority moving forward.

“At a certain point we’re going to have to sit down and determine who’s going to pay for those additional costs and where the funding’s going to come from,” said Benson, adding that City Council members knew about delays, but not necessarily the unforeseen costs.

The City Council voted to approve an additional $42,000 in funding, at the December meeting, for consulting from Atkins, a project management firm.

The municipal complex’s groundbreaking was in July 2012 and the complex was set to open by the end of 2013. But, construction hit a major snag last May when the parking garage was erected. The staff’s monthly report said that the threshold inspector saw cracks in some of the support beams. Work was stopped until the beams could be repaired. An additional “stop work order” happened last July because of safety concerns about the beams.

Disagreements between the city, the constructors and architects have also been a major reason for delays.

“There were some concerns with the construction drawings and how it was being erected,” Benson said. “Everyone’s trying to make sure that things are done correctly.”

Representatives from Skanska last spoke publicly about the developments at a City Council meeting last October noting that many of the finishing touches were completed. They said then that the dais and seating in the new council chambers were nearly set and the parking garage had its barriers in place.

Atkins will continue to survey the construction site until June and give the city reports on the progress of construction and any changes in the time line for completion.

Benson said that no date is set to have the city meet with all the parties involved, but it’s necessary to finalize plans moving forward.

“At some point and time we’re going to have to get down to the nitty gritty,” said Benson.

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