As expected, a development team led by art dealer Gary Nader filed an official protest Friday challenging a recommendation that Miami Dade College’s board of trustees partner with condo king Related Group on a project to build a cultural center and residential towers downtown, perhaps foreshadowing a long legal battle over the project.
Nader’s attorneys notified the college three weeks ago of their plans to protest a college committee’s decision to score Related Group the highest among three competitors, including Nader. But unexpectedly, Friday’s challenge came after weeks of legal wrangling over the price of a required protest bond and public records related to an internal college investigation.
Last month, Nader + Museu LLP fended off the college’s arguments that the development team would need to post a $2.3 million bond in order to file a bid protest. A Miami-Dade judge allowed Nader’s team to move forward, at least temporarily, with the posting of a $100,000 injunction bond. Then on Thursday, Judge Monica Gordo rejected the college’s request to dissolve the emergency injunction and clarified that Nader’s team had until Monday to file its protest, which was previously considered due on the first of the month.
Nader’s team has also filed a public records lawsuit, alleging that the college is illegally withholding documents related to an internal investigation into allegations that a college consultant violated a procurement gag order by meeting privately with a Related Group executive during a developer competition.
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Nader’s attorneys have argued for months that the private contact tainted the competition to build a museum, theater, conference center and private towers at 520 Biscayne Blvd., but Related Group and college officials say a probe led by former U.S. attorney Bob Martinez showed nothing about the contact was improper.
Attempts to reach college spokesman Juan Mendieta at his office and by email were unsuccessful. Procurement director Roman Martinez was on leave and unavailable.