As the $13 million, five-block improvement project along Flagler Street in downtown Miami’s historic Central Business District proceeds through its 16th month of construction – almost a year behind its original schedule – frustrated businesses, property owners and residents are hoping that yesterday’s City of Miami commission meeting signals the start of some relief.
The City of Miami has agreed to fully involve the Miami Downtown Development Authority in the ongoing construction process. Although the DDA – and it’s Flagler Street Task Force – has often been perceived as the entity in charge of the project, they have not been consistently informed or consulted. With the support of Miami city commissioners, that is about to change. The Miami Herald reports:
City administrators will continue to supervise FH Paschen, the Chicago-based contractor hired to complete the $13 million, five-block streetscape project. The work was supposed to be on track for completion by the end of this year. But following a series of complications and delays that have pushed away pedestrians and scarred retailers, the city now promises to loop in the quasi-public Downtown Development Authority on every meeting, email and memo regarding the project.
Will involving the MDDA help get this project back on track?
The MDDA will still not have any authority to hold the contractor to their schedule. And the Flagler Street businesses, who self-assessed approximately $1 million to help fund this construction, have even less recourse yet are the people most adversely affected by the continuing delays.
The fits and starts by the contractor have angered some influential businessmen. On Thursday, the in-house counsel for Moishe Mana, a developer who has bought up more than $150 million in property along Flagler, said the businessman and regular political donor is losing tenants and money. Another politically active developer, Sergio Rok, said in a written statement the city has given him “shifting commitments” and conflicting information while his business bleeds.
“New tenants? Who would possibly sign a lease when there’s no plan in place to complete the project?” Rok asked.
It is anticipated that the additional oversight provided by the Miami Downtown Development Authority will help the City of Miami – be their on-site eyes and ears, so to speak – to help the city enforce its contract with FH Paschen. Downtown Miami’s Flagler Street stakeholders certainly hope so.