'Significant' delays could push back South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center opening until 2011
By Risa Polansky
Terming the delays "significant," county officials now say it could be as late as 2011 before a new cultural arts center opens in South Miami-Dade.
Commissioners approved the $38.8 million project in 2005, projecting an August 2007 opening. The existing construction contract calls for a February 2008 completion.
Last month, officials projected a fall 2010 opening for the 966-seat theater and activities center in Cutler Bay.
It looks now like re-doing shoddy work, then putting the finishing touches on the buildings, could push opening night to late 2010 or early 2011.
"We're into significant delays on completing the project," Michael Spring, director of the county's Department of Cultural Affairs, told commissioners at a Recreation, Culture & Tourism Committee meeting Monday.
Last month, the committee learned that failed inspection results, among other issues, led the county to demand contractors redo the building's curtain wall, part of the façade that serves as a design feature and wind shield.
Contractors have not submitted a formal, fully updated schedule but have said curtain wall-related delays could push the projected January 2010 construction completion date to March 2010, Mr. Spring said.
That projection doesn't take into account necessary remedial work on the metal panels that cover the side of the buildings.
"We're guessing, educated guesses, that it will be at least a year from now for the completion of just the metal panel work on the building, which will take us to June of next year, and then there will be additional work that will need to be done to complete the systems on the inside of the building," Mr. Spring said.
That could push completion to late 2010 or early 2011, mused South Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson.
Mr. Spring noted that the plan has been to begin the first full performance season in 2010/2011.
"We're still looking generally at that timeframe for the first season to begin in the building," he said. "We were hoping that we could do some soft opening activities before then, but it's not looking good for the soft opening activities."
The delays have not pushed the project over budget — the county continues to asses monthly damages against the contractor.
At the meeting Monday, commissioners voted to dip into the overall capital project budget to extend contracts for project architects and consultants.
They agreed to an added $1 million to Arquitectonica for continuing architectural and engineering services, $75,000 to Artec Consultants for acoustical, sound and communications consulting, and $75,000 to Fisher Dachs Associates for theater planning consulting services.
"We're still within the approved budget, the authorized budget, for this project with these contract extensions," Mr. Spring assured commissioners.
Ms. Sorenson, though disappointed with the extended timeline, found a silver lining: "I'm sorry to hear [about the delays]," she said. "On the other hand, maybe the economy will improve by the time we finally do open so that it will be an easier opening… full house is what we want."