City Manager Iglesias Seeks Commission Approval Of Additional $640,000 For Mobility Hub Design

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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The controversial Mobility Hub returns to the Coral Gables City Commission, as City Manager Peter Iglesias will be seeking an additional $640,000 for the Mobility Hub at the April 12th meeting.

Gables Insider had reported on March 17th, in”Mobility Hub In Limbo, As Rising Costs Bring Estimated Price From $28.9 Million To Over $62 Million,” that the Mobility Hub was initially proposed to residents as a $28.9 million project. However, the rising cost of construction labor and supplies had brought the estimate from the city’s contractor to over $62 million. (Click here to see Weitz’s estimated budget).

Iglesias’ “Legacy Project”

Gables Insider has since learned that Iglesias, who is in the sunset of his career and has stated that the Mobility Hub is his “legacy project”, has made it his priority to negotiate with the contractor, The Weitz Company, and reduce the final price. Sources at City Hall informed Gables Insider that Weitz has agreed to reduce their estimate to somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million. Something that would bring the total project cost to just over $44 million, as many other components are not factored into Weitz’s contract.

Can they deliver? No one can give an assurance, as the cost of construction supplies and manpower have continued to grow on a month-to-month basis setting all-time records.

Using the Police and Fire Headquarters as an example, that project went over budget by almost 50% of the estimated final cost. That project was also managed by Iglesias.

More Money For Controversial Design

One such non-factored component is the controversial design. Although some members of the Commission claim that there are a majority of residents who support and like the design, a public records request by Gables Insider showed that the Commission had only received 4 such emails supporting the design. Two of them from former City staff. Another 36 had been received against it. In fact, 1,060 residents signed a petition asking the Commission to stop the project, specifically due to the design.

Gensler, the company hired by the City to design the project has already been paid over $2 million by the City. Yet, on Tuesday’s agenda, the City Manager is seeking another $640,000 for the design based on a percentage of the project cost.

Iglesias had already asked the Commission to approve additional funding last month when he proposed a change order for $1.5 million to demolish the current garage. That was also not factored in, although it should have been in the initial budget. Sources at City Hall explain it was a miscalculation of what the demolition would cost that required this change.

Unnecessary Costs

One of the items driving up the cost is the insistence to build the garage with 12 foot ceilings to allow for its future transformation into usable space in the event that cars are not being used as much and the need for parking disappears. But is this necessary?

No one knows. However, at a meeting of industry and government leaders in 2018, the estimate of reduction of vehicles expected on the roads at the time was non-existent in the near future in areas such as Coral Gables. A true reduction in vehicles, in their eyes, would only be seen as a possibility in areas such as Brickell where people live walking distance from employment and entertainment. Residents have been clear on this issue, they do not want Coral Gables to be like Brickell.

When asked about the impact of the 12 foot ceiling heights, an architect consulted by Gables Insider explained that a change to industry standard garage height would reduce the total height of the building by over 35 feet and potentially reduce the construction costs by at least 20%. A savings of $8 million or padding for potential cost overruns.

Higher Taxes?

The financials of the project have also come into question. No one has explained to residents where the money for the construction of this project will come from, other than the need to secure a bond to cover the costs and incur debt on behalf of residents.

Cost overruns, which every single project under construction today is enduring, have been problematic for the City in recent years. The Police and Fire Headquarters cost overruns resulted in the need to sell the Greco parking lot for $3.25 million and depleted funds for other projects including the renovations of City Hall to cover the expenses.

In this case, the City has no such funds to deplete anymore, which will undoubtedly result in higher taxes and/or the need for additional debt.

Last month, Gables Insider polled Coral Gables voters about the possibility of taking out debt for the Parks Master Plan. Over 57% of residents are against raising their taxes at all.

The Commission will consider the item at the April 12th Commission meeting.


19 thoughts on “City Manager Iglesias Seeks Commission Approval Of Additional $640,000 For Mobility Hub Design

    At the recent commission meeting, when discussing the mobility hub project, the city manager used the term “adaptive reuse” to describe the new hub. When inquired, it was explained that his use of the term referred to the future use of the building. A demolition of the present structure to make way for new construction is proven to hurt the environment NOW. Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an existing building and adapting it to meet new needs. Let’s adapt what is already here for earth’s sake.

  2. His “legacy” will be leaving the City with an lavishly overpriced white elephant hanging around its neck.
    Is this City fiscally incompetent? How can Key Biscayne keep their millage rates so low while still doing overwrought projects and not having a substantial commercial area to mitigate the tax base?

  3. Out of character design. My concern is that this project is being driven by folks who missed accounting for the $1.5 million required demo milestone. What else…. is missing, more expensive, or unaccounted for? Moving target on costs and design adjustments are concerning.

    Finish promised traffic calming, reassess need for 12 ft. and autonomous vehicle impacts.

  4. I spoke in favor of the mobility hub at the Sunshine meeting based on three items presented as part of the project at that time:

    -Adaptive reuse
    -EV infrastructure
    -Park on the roof

    At the sunshine meeting, I also suggested that bike infrastructure connect to the hub because a mobility hub is not a mobility hub when it only serves one mode of transportation.

    I am still not clear as to what we are getting for the additional $640,000 in design fees – adaptive reuse, EV infrastructure and the park were previously included; it was presented at the sunshine meeting. I just don’t see what the additional $640,000 pays for, something else was clearly omitted from the scope. Let’s just be honest. I still support the project;I prefer transparency.

    The project will pay for itself and I agree it needs to get designed so it can be shovel ready for when the funds become available. The City has made the mistake to stop design of other projects and when infrastructure funding became available, we had no projects ready to go unlike other cities in south Florida that were prepared.

  5. I add my voice to all the others outraged by this crazy project. Mr. Asrani comments above sum up what we should be doing to stop this outrageous project. Lago and all the others ran on listening to the people first and foremost. So listen to us!

  6. Solution to Both Higher Project Cost & Traffic Calming mentioned in Neighbors’ comments: Knock 2 floors from project, thus 20% savings & more appropriate height to match Mediterranean cities, not NYC. Cameras with $$$ fines & no points as in West Miami will do the traffic calming job & pay for other necessities, or more traffic calming devices like speed humps/ platform on Granada golf course or on North & South Greenways, where we have joggers, cyclists, pedestrians, dog walkers. Traffic/speeding so bad there, many longtime residents, former mayor & Globe owners moved away.

  7. Legacy? Give me a break.
    The mobility hub as designed, last I saw, is lovely. FOR SOME OTHER LOCATION. The design is fantastic for downtown Miami. Here, it will tower over Miracle Mile and make a joke out of the Mediterranean style originally envisioned for The CIty Beautiful.
    I remember stating my opposition to it some time past…
    When do the ones paying for salaries and every project in The Gables get to be heard? Whether by emil, in person, or editorials – clearly we don’t amount to a hill of beans. LISTEN TO RESIDENTS.

  8. Before this legacy project becomes a money pit with no bottom, the commissioners should take a breather on development they wish to create that the people don’t want. This is within their control and they should scuttle this without further waste of time and money. Does anyone know if the architects have been hired on an hourly, fixed cost basis or perhaps a percentage of the cost of construction ? Having paid 2 million just to produce conceptual drawings seems absurd at its face. If the eventual cost of construction has gone up, so will the architects fees.

    I think this project needs to go on a referendum along with the parks and recreation issues. Then and then alone will we find out if the people really want this monstrosity dubbed as Mobility Hub built

  9. Traffic calming on my street has now been pushed back until 2025, at best! Mayor L’Ego’s ambivalent policies can only be explained by dark emotions. His factotum, CM Iglesias, is a prime example of the Peter Principle. He’s simply incapable of
    building whatever L’Ego wants built within budget and aesthetic boundaries.
    Who builds an inadequate Fire Station in the middle of a crowded downtown, annexed to a large police department, but doesn’t build a parking garage to service both?

  10. Just a few of the many concerns:
    1) as to the contract: is this a fixed price or cost plus contract? How much is allocated for cost overruns? It shouldn’t be less than 15% and no dipping. No developer fees should be paid until after the project is completed . Who is going to monitor the project to insure the work is performed and payment is made only after work is done according to specifications ? If it will be the bank, will it be Construction Loan Admin Department doing the monitoring and not an inexperienced individual. Who has override decision making powers of changes to the plan, monitoring and disbursements that is not in any way associates with the developer,contractor, or city?

    2) are the ancillary expenses in this budget: payments to owners of businesses on Andalusia for disruption?reconfiguration of traffic flows and manning of traffic to insure east-west flow? Parking subsidies for current users of garage, and for construction workers because where are they going to park?

    I hope that City maintains good independence on how to keep this project in check.

  11. AGAIN the leadership of Coral Gables and the self anointed ruling City employees ARE NOT LISTENING TO US. It now has become a necessity to rid Coral Gables of the Leadership and certain employees of the City that we have. We do not want this, it does not fit into our landscape, we do not want to pay for it and you need to stop going forward with this project. We own the City, we pay for the City, we are the residents of the City. Over the last few years the leadership of Coral Gables has ruined our City with overbuilding, zoning changes and projects we deem unnecessary. Can not wait for the next election when ALL incumbents are removed from their positions. Lago we elected you because we believed in you, but not anymore.

  12. Just unbelievable! We have been away for a few weeks and now this! We urge ALL COMMISSIONERS and the MAYOR to stop this reckless project immediately! Our $$$ doesn’t grow on trees! Think smaller scale, like everyone else in the world is doing, and it’s working! Bigger is not necessarily better!

  13. They should build something with the same architecture of The Plaza (Mediterranean), similar to the one in Aragon or at the end of Giralda. This belongs to South Beach, not Coral Gables.

  14. I am sure another no development commission will vote yes. Commissioner Anderson please be the voice of reason – vote no! And Mr. I made a bundle by selling my property in the Crafts Section by using his little orphan Annie speech in his neighborhood walks to get elected – I am 😥 the son of a single mother – working class guy and a real shill- let’s see how he votes – Mendez—mmm?

  15. “NO’ to another $640,000 for the mobility hub. It’s been in the trash bin.

    “NO” to City Manager Peter Iglesias. Get rid of him. He makes many bad decisions.

    “NO” to the 5 Commissioners. All fools for letting this go so far. They make many bad decisions.

    “YES” to clean house. Out the door: City Attorney Miriam Ramos, Assistant City Attorney
    Cristina Suarez, Director of Planning and Zoning Ramon Arias, Board Planning member Robert Behar!!

    “YES” to better government for all.

  16. We don’t need this legacy project. What we really need is wisdom and common sense, mainly to our leaders…


  18. I find it problematic that the resolution for these additional $640,000.00 of expenditure says almost nothing about what exactly will be done with it. The garage should be replaced, no question, but does it have to be this over the top modern building that does not fit in Coral Gables? Does it have to be done now when costs are projected to be so very high? We have an additional 70million in pending infrastructure projects that are unfunded. The commission should let this project die, and move on.

  19. With the money these drunken sailers spend we could have done citywide traffic calming by now. Every year the city income increases and they figure out how to spend it!

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