Coral Gables commissioners approved the next step in the Miracle Mile/Giralda Avenue streetscape project Tuesday by approving contract negotiations with the construction firm handling the work.
The commission voted to allow the city manager and city attorney to negotiate the contract at a guaranteed maximum price of $21.6 million. Preliminary work is expected to begin in the next few months and the major construction work is slated to begin in the summer.
The project will expand the width of sidewalks along the Mile to make it pedestrian friendly and to accommodate outdoor cafes all while adding new trees, streetlights and other features. The plan also calls for a replacement of the current angled street parking with parallel parking. On Giralda Avenue the curbs would be removed and the street would be used primarily for foot traffic.
Commissioners were mostly in agreement when discussing the project and hoping to get the work started soon, but Commissioner Patricia Keon again expressed concerns about the Giralda Avenue portion of the project and said she wanted the Mile and Giralda plans to be separate.
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“I really have grave concerns over what we’re doing to development along there,” Keon said.
Vice Mayor Frank Quesada said that ultimately the project has been approved for both streets and they have to advanc,e but people can continue to voice their opinions.
“It’s a little bit beyond that at this point. We voted on it, the time has passed,” Quesada said.
The contract also includes provisions that the construction firm and developers will improve the drainage system on the Mile.
▪ Andalusia Avenue garages: Commissioners approved two items for the renovation of two public parking garages on Andalusia Avenue.
The city commission approved an item allowing five firms that were part of the first phase of the renovation project to make proposals for the second phase. They also voted in favor of the second phase of the plan despite some concerns over splitting up the project.
Quesada initially expressed some concern about the plan and thought the project might go on for an extended time and cause traffic issues if split into phases, but he ultimately supported the item after additional staff and commission discussion.
“If we stage it, we’ll be able to manage the process in that once parking garage XYZ is open then the next one can commence,” City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark said.
There was also discussion of how many firms would be allowed to offer proposals for the next phase of the project. The five groups — American Land Ventures, Coral Gables City Center, Florida East Coast Realty, GCP BE and TC Gables — were considered and staff recommended a top three of TC Gables, GCP BE and Coral Gables City Center.
Some commissioners said that when the groups were considered by an evaluation committee there wasn’t much of a point differential between the firms. American Land Ventures and Florida East Coast Realty were about three and five points behind the top-ranked firm. Economic development director Javier Betancourt said the two lower scoring firms had plans that didn’t quite match the city’s vision for the project.
Commissioner Vince Lago said while he disagreed with some of the proposals from the firms, he didn’t want to turn people away.
“I want to make sure that the developer who has taken the time, who has been the partner with the city for such a long time, doesn’t get scared or shy away from continuing to be involved,” Lago said.
The two garages are at 345 and 245 Andalusia Avenue and the most recent renovation plan has been in the works for nearly two years.
THE NEXT MEETING
When: 9 a.m. Feb. 9.
Where: Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables.