Four neighborhood cultural groups benefit from county's deal for performing arts complex
By Marilyn Bowden
The planned South Miami-Dade Cultural Center, Coconut Grove Playhouse, The Lyric Theater and the Caribbean Marketplace soon will be splitting a $19.8 million windfall earmarked for neighborhood facilities as part of the county commission's financing deal for construction of the performing arts center.
The allocation formula will bring the groups money for the following:
nSouth Miami-Dade Cultural Center, a proposed complex across from Cutler Ridge Mall that backers say will help the area recover from the economic devastation of Hurricane Andrew, will get more than $10 million.
nCoconut Grove Playhouse, which faces $30 million in repairs and urgent parking needs, will get $5 million.
nThe Lyric, an historic theater and centerpiece of the city's 20-year-old plan for an Overtown Black Folklife Village, will get $4.3 million.
nCaribbean Marketplace, a 10-year-old Little Haiti site at 5927 NE Second Ave., will get $354,614 for repairs to the open-air emporium to meet safety and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The commission recommended that consultants be hired to make sure the cost of repairs would not exceed 50% of the market's value and to determine the costs of improvements based on a user-defined program and schematic floor plan.
The Neighborhood Projects Plan known as the Existing Facilities Plan until the as-yet-unbuilt South Dade center was added to the roster has been part of the financing package from the conception of a performing arts center.
The decision to include funds for capital improvements to smaller venues in the performing arts center's budget was based on recommendations in a 1986 study by Touche Ross.
The study, which looked at the ability of venues in Miami-Dade to meet the needs of performing arts groups and other users, concluded that the arts community was strong enough to support a major performing arts facility but recommended a long-term commitment to improve existing sites.
In 1990, $8.7 million of a $158.7 million financing scheme was allocated to rehabilitate existing venues.
Two years later, with available funds pared to $7 million, the county had a wish list totaling $33.25 million from 11 venues: Gusman Center, Dade County Auditorium, Manuel Artime Performing Arts Center, Actors' Playhouse, Colony Theatre, Caleb Auditorium, Tower Theatre, African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, Lyric Theater and Shores Performing Arts Center.
Talks about which would get money, and how much, have been resurrected with regularity over the decade each time the budget has been reviewed.
County commissioners last week unanimously agreed to award an At-Risk Construction Management Contract to Performing Arts Center Builders if the group meets a $255 million target price after a six-month pre-construction period, but left themselves the options of abandoning the project or re-opening the bidding if the price is higher.
In response to a question by Commissioner Barbara Carey-Schuler, County Manager Merrett Stierheim said the neighborhood projects would not have to await the outcome of the construction consortium's six-month evaluation but would get money immediately.
nPlease see related story on South Dade cultural center