For years, Coral Gables leaders have contemplated how to replace two decades-old parking garages on Andalusia Avenue.
The shovel has never hit the ground on any plans, and with the city aiming to attract more people to Miracle Mile with an proposed streetscaping project, the need for parking could outgrow the 50-year-old garages. Now, outgoing City Manager Pat Salerno has envisioned a deal where the city swaps the land under one garage for the construction of a new, larger facility at the other site.
Although the city is still finalizing a request for proposals to attract pitches from developers, the idea is to either lease, sell or give the land under Garage 4, across from the Publix at 2551 LeJeune Road, in exchange for the construction of a new Garage 1, which stands behind the Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre.
The city’s options won’t be clear until developers submit proposals for the City Commission to consider, which will happen after city staff completes the long-awaited solicitation. But Salerno said the interest is there.
“There’s been a fair amount of expressed interest to staff by the development community,” he said. “But until you we get proposal, you can’t draw any conclusions.”
Garage 1 behind the Miracle Theatre has 282 spaces and Garage 4 has 345 spaces. From this total of 627 spaces, Salerno hopes a new Garage 1 will have 1,000 spaces. The additional 373 spaces would cover expected growth and the likely loss of several spaces on Miracle Mile if a proposed streetscaping project goes forward.
Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. said he supports the concept of swapping land for construction because he thinks it will minimize the cost of the project to the city, although he said he wants to see some parking remain across from the Publix.
“I thought it was crucial that we put some parking for Miracle Mile on every block,” he said.
He added that he thinks the garages should be developed before the Mile is streetscaped to ease the parking headaches that would arise.
According to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser, the land under Garage 4 has a market value of about $8 million. This early in the process, officials have no cost estimates for the redevelopment. The last garage built downtown was the 606-vehicle garage across from the Mile behind John Martin’s Irish Pub, which was finished in 2005 and cost the city about $11 million.
Salerno, whose last day is Friday, said staff is almost finished with the solicitation. He did not give a time frame for when it would be finished.