Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens may pursue architect for cost overruns

Miami Gardens’ new City Hall complex opened with a grand celebration and Mayor Oliver Gilbert’s “state of the city” address earlier this month after numerous delays.

The delays, and what city officials have called “a significant number of claims for extra work,” have prompted a joint prosecution agreement between the city and its construction contractor to investigate the work of the project’s architects.

The city will partner with Skanska to share information and potentially take legal action against the architect of record for the project, URS. The agreement would also allow the city to avoid a potential lawsuit with Skanska and eventually lead to a resolution of some of the claims they have against each other.

“The parties believe that their common interests may be furthered by, through their respective counsel, continuing to cooperate and share confidential and protected documents, strategic decisions, research and information, and other materials,” the agreement reads.

City Manager Cameron Benson said the city and Skanska have not finalized a dollar amount for the claims and are still in the early planning stages of investigating and exchanging information. He said the agreement between the two groups was mainly done to expedite the process.

“It helps with moving forward to the point where we can complete the project,” Benson said.

The municipal complex broke ground in July 2012, and the initial expectation was that city hall would open during the summer of 2013, with the new police department being completed later in the year. Instead, construction was held up last May when a threshold inspector saw cracks in some of the support beams, and work was stopped until the beams could be repaired.

The City Council and multiple city departments moved into the building in early May and the first council meeting in the new complex was held May 28. Benson said the police portion of the complex is expected to be completed in September or by year’s end.