After a lobbying campaign by parents and business interests, Brickell area residents are one step closer to getting a new school.
The Miami-Dade School Board gave the superintendent the green light on Wednesday to finalize negotiations with Related Urban Development Group, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami to build a secondary school on the site of a Brickell housing project.
The new school would sit at 201 SW 10th Street, on county land where Related is building The Gallery at West Brickell, an affordable and workforce housing project. The school district is also negotiating with the City of Miami to give Brickell students access to Southside Park for outdoor activities.
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“With all the construction that has happened in Brickell and is happening in Brickell, it is abundantly clear that there is a need for additional educational facilities,” said Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo, who spoke in favor of the negotiations.
The Gallery at West Brickell could also provide affordable housing options for school district employees, Related senior vice president Alberto Milo Jr. said. “We have a unique opportunity not only to provide education, but also to provide housing for all of the staff that’s going to work at this school,” he said.
The School Board also voted to allow Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to negotiate with the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency for funding to support education downtown. The school district hopes to let Omni use parking spaces on school district land located at the northeast corner of Northeast First Avenue and Northeast 16th Street and get funds in exchange that could be used to expand capacity at existing neighborhood schools in the downtown area north of the Miami River.
Residents and businesses have long argued that there is a growing need for a new school downtown, but finding a site to build on has not been an easy task.
Business leaders and elected officials have floated the idea of building a school on land owned by Temple Israel and the City of Miami, on Northeast 19th Street and Northeast Second Avenue. There has also been talk of negotiating seats for downtown residents at iPrep, a magnet high school started by the superintendent.
Although negotiations with Related have yet to be finalized, the plan to build on The Gallery at West Brickell site is the most concrete plan to date for the Brickell area.
“It’s forward-moving progress,” said Rebecca Carter, a Brickell resident and the mother of two elementary school-aged boys. Carter said she’s optimistic about the plan, but remains concerned about how long it will take to implement. “Brickell is a place that it will not reach its potential without the infrastructure it so desperately needs,” she said.
The school district has also allocated $22 million to expand Southside Elementary School in Brickell, and $43 million to create more space for students at downtown schools north of the Miami River.