Coral Gables leaders plan to negotiate with a team of noteworthy developers as they redevelop two parking garages in the City Beautiful.
The city commission approved negotiations with Coral Gables City Center LLC to redevelop two city-owned garages on Andalusia Avenue just south of Miracle Mile and the downtown area. The City Center group is a partnership between The Allen Morris Company and Related, with design work from Zyscovich Architects.
The negotiations are set to go for up to six months, but might not last that long. If the city can’t reach an agreement with the City Center group then it will negotiate with the second-highest bidder, TC Gables LLC. That group is a partnership between developers Terranova, ZOM and Gibson Development with design by Arquitectonica.
Despite approving the negotiations, some commissioners expressed concerns over the plans and how closely they follow the city’s original request for proposals. The request dates back to 2013 and called for a renovation that included up to 1,000 parking spaces and commercial space. The plans from the developers include new parking technology, hundreds of new parking spaces and multistory, mixed-use buildings with retail and apartment units.
Commissioner Patricia Keon said she didn’t understand how the plans evolved to include certain plans like managing and monitoring parking spaces through a mobile app and some of the plans for apartment units.
“There are so many elements that are not in conjunction with the [request for proposals],” Keon said. “I really would like far more clarity moving forward in what we want.”
The City Center proposal includes three different design ideas that all involve multiple floors, Mediterranean-style foyers, ground-level retail space and apartment units above the parking area. The “smart parking” system would direct drivers to available parking and show them how many spots are available at a given time.
The developer’s preferred design idea includes building Garage 1 up to 16 stories with about 11,800 square feet of commercial space, close to 800 parking spaces and about 140,000 square feet of office space on the top six floors with an open-air cafe and park on the building’s 12th floor. The building would be about 264 feet high with a statue of Ponce de Leon on top.
Garage 4 would be 17 stories and rise to about 212 feet with a similar tower structure on top. The proposal has about 16,000 square feet of commercial space, an additional 799 parking spots and about 244 luxury apartment units.
City staff has indicated that it plans to negotiate with City Center based on a smaller version of the project that does not include the tower on top. The negotiations will include the staff’s preference to have the project built in phases.
The plans for the garages, Garage 1 at 245 Andalusia Ave. and Garage 4 at 345 Andalusia Ave., have been in place since 2013. The city and developers hope to bring cutting-edge design to the aging structures, which were built in the 1950s and ’60s, draw younger professionals to Miracle Mile and downtown Coral Gables and complement the Miracle Mile/Giralda Avenue streetscape project.
The project is still far from an official vote on planning and zoning changes or site plans. The city has indicated that the negotiations will likely include changes to the plans as both proposals would require a great deal of legislative work.
“We’re not awarding a bid, we’re not picking a project,” City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark said. “What we really wanted to do was be at the table.”
Renderings and plans from both groups were ranked and discussed by an evaluation committee last year with preference given to the City Center proposal after a presentation before the committee in December.