A legal grudge match between art collector Gary Nader and Miami Dade College over a planned downtown cultural center has been kicked down the road by an administrative law judge, with both sides declaring victory.
Late Friday, Judge Robert Kilbride said a protest filed early last month by development team Nader + Museu LLP had been submitted prematurely. He recommended that the college dismiss proceedings triggered by the challenge and resume its competitive process to find a partner to build a cultural center next to the Freedom Tower.
Kilbride’s recommendation will be considered by the college’s Board of Trustees, which meets again on Sept. 27.
“We are pleased that the judge is permitting the college to move forward with negotiations with the highest-ranked proposer, The Related Group,” college purchasing director Roman Martinez said in a statement.
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A college evaluation committee ranked Related Group’s proposal over Nader’s in July, setting off weeks of discord. Nader, who sparked a developer competition last year by submitting an unsolicited bid to build a theater, museum, conference center and condos on college property along Biscayne Boulevard, challenged the decision, and filed two lawsuits successfully contesting a required $2.3 million protest bond and seeking public records it claimed the college was withholding.
But the judge didn’t blame Nader for filing a premature protest. Rather, Kilbride said the college had required Nader to file too early in its competitive process. His recommendation would not only allow the college to begin negotiating with Related Group, but it would also preserve Nader’s right to file a protest later on.
Nader’s attorney, Bill Riley, said the ruling gives the development team time to secure more records from the college and bolster his claim that the procurement process was tainted, an allegation the college strongly denies.
“The bid protest is on hold,” Riley said. “We have time now to go after and continue our investigation of public records.”