After three years of delay, South Dade cultural center has a 'firm' year to go
By Risa Polansky
South Dade residents and visitors can look forward to the long-awaited opening of their very own cultural center one year from now — a "firm" date after years of waiting.
The overdue South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center has seen its construction completion date pushed back almost monthly, but county Cultural Affairs Director Michael Spring is reporting for the fourth consecutive month that the project is now on track with a "firm" end date in sight.
Commissioners approved the $38.8 million, 966-seat theater and activities center in 2005.
Since, the planned August 2007 construction wrap date has become a December 2010 completion followed by a March 2011 soft opening, with the first full performance season to begin that fall, Mr. Spring said at a county Recreation, Culture and Tourism Committee meeting Monday.
And "more good news": much of the construction work that has gone wrong has been righted, he said.
The committee learned last May 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.
Curtain walls are now complete on both buildings, Mr. Spring said.
Remedial work is complete on the metal panels on the activities center and underway on the main theater, he said, and "the best news of all is that the contractor has now started work on the interior finishes of the buildings."
And not only is the work getting done, he said, but it's "topnotch."
After much tumult, Mr. Spring said, "we have turned the corner."
He noted also that the county continues to assess delay damages monthly against the 10% retainage being held for the project that would otherwise have been released to the contractor.
The recreation committee on Monday was supposed to learn also where plans stand for a Westchester cultural center, but Chair Javier Souto deferred discussion, citing "inaccuracies and delays."
He did not elaborate.
Back in late 2008, commissioners were told funding was in place to build a cultural center in Westchester — $4 million in general obligation bonds — but no money to operate it once built.
When the lawmakers learned it would probably take until 2013 to finish the center, some suggested the county move ahead anyway and figure out operations funding later.
"It just seems to me that this is a project that's so far out in terms of the completion time that we should be able to move on it," Commissioner Dennis Moss said at the time.
As for where plans stand now, Mr. Souto said Monday, "more news at 11. We'll see what happens."