Mobility Hub In Limbo, As Rising Costs Bring Estimated Price From $28.9 Million To Over $62 Million

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]insider.com


The City of Coral Gables’ controversial Mobility Hub is in limbo, as construction prices skyrocket and have increased the latest projected cost by 40% and the initial estimate by 107%. The Mobility Hub, a 626 parking space garage with retail at the ground floor and a park on the roof, has been planned for the location of the Parking Garage 1 at 245 Andalusia Avenue between Miracle Theatre and Cheesecake Factory.

On February 11th, the City received its Design Development Estimate Closure Document where the City’s contractor, The Weitz Company, provided the City with its budget estimate for the entire project. The new projected cost was $58,921,206. However, this is not the full cost.

When the project was initially proposed, it was projected to cost $28,958,000. However, by the November 9, 2021 City Commission meeting, the City Manager informed the Commission that, “The bond — we’re looking at $42 million right now. We are working on those estimates right now with our project manager.” The estimate blew that number out of the water.

The estimates were revealed by the City’s Finance Director Diana Gomez, who displayed the expected bonds at the March 8th Commission meeting, where the presentation showed an expected bond for $55.2 million.

Iglesias has refereed to this project as his legacy project. After receiving this estimate, sources inform Gables Insider, that the drawings of the Mobility Hub which were being displayed outside his office were removed from public view.

The budget rundown includes every component of the project, and factors in their projections of escalation of costs between February 11th and the expected project start date of September 1st. The escalation for these seven months was an estimated $4.4 million. This has raised concerns at City Hall, as the project would begin in September with a $58.9 million projected budget, but with this projection of escalation by over $628,000 per month, the project could easily jump into the high 60 millions by the time of completion.

This is not the City’s fault, it is the reality of the effects of inflation and product costs in a post-COVID-19 world.

These costs do not include the over $2 million already spent on the design of the project and other components already paid. The architecture firm, Gensler, is rumored to be asking the City for an additional $1 million to complete its designs. This cost, is also not factored into the $58.9 million. The total project cost would be over $62 million as we stand today.

One reprieve received by the City was that the project was recently awarded $975,000 in state funding for electric vehicle charging and its solar energy components, pending the governor’s approval. Coral Gables residents would still need to foot the bill for the additional $61.025 million.

Weitz explained in its budget, that “as we mentioned at the Schematic stage, our industry is still suffering from the effects of hyperinflation and escalation caused by supply chain issues, labor shortages, transportation carrier shortages, etc. Our team is still working to address these issues. As before, in order to provide ‘real-time’ pricing, we solicited and received proposals from many of the relevant trades for the project.”

Over 1,000 residents signed a petition stating that the Commission “the garage is not compatible with our City’s vision and it requires multiple variances from our codes and ordinances which they have chosen to ignore.” One member of the Commission stated that this was an insignificant number of residents at the November Commission meeting.

The Commission is expected to discuss the project at the March 29th Commission meeting.

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32 thoughts on “Mobility Hub In Limbo, As Rising Costs Bring Estimated Price From $28.9 Million To Over $62 Million

  1. I do not want any of my tax dollars spent, to continue the Mobility Hub. End it.

  2. OK. We know Mayor Lago is bad for the City. One way to stop him is to get at least 3 other commissioners to vote against his plans.

    Doing that requires communicating with the other commissioners: email, telephone call, in person. It directly give them our opinions.

    The commissioner must vote with the majority opinions from the residents.

    The democratic process will end Mayor Lago’s career.

    If we don’t do that, our complaints do not have enough bite.

  3. STOP ALL PAYMENTS ON THE MOBILITY HUB!

    REJECT $140 MILLION FOR THE PARKS!

    THE RESIDENTS ARE IN CHARGE OF THE CITY!

  4. How can this article cite that this “is not the city’s fault”???!! I guess nor was the Wawa which a judge tossed out as illegal, Rita still being strung along regarding Burger Bobs because what residents care about most doesn’t apply to Lago’s vision.

    This was a most predictable failure from the onset (and in fairness Anderson opposed it and does stick up for us; should be the norm not the exception), but as the boys insist they want their mid-life crisis shiny new hot wheels car no matter the cost because it makes them feel they have what- a legacy? Only legacy they will leave is one of disgrace.

    Lago’s minions must have an impressive ability to shield him from how hated he has become to no one’s fault, but his own. That ego is so big it’s got to burst soon. He does not know best for us nor represent us. Le’go is a great name. We must le’go of Lago!

  5. LET’S CUT THE GRANDIOSITY AND RESTRAIN THE EGOS , CUT OUR LOSSES AND KILL THIS MONSTROSITY.
    FIX PONCE DE LEON FROM TAMIAMI TRAIL TO MIRACLE MILE. IT’S POTHOLE ROAD AND HAS BEEN SO FOR A LONG WHILE. IT’S THIRD WORLD.

  6. Jackson I would ask you to research the problems with fires while charging electric vehicles and bikes before commenting on safety.
    This is an issue that should be reviewed carefully by Coral Gables Fire Chief and Police Chief.
    The technology is improving for electric vehicles but charging is still a safety concern.
    This issue has nothing to do with cost or desirability of this structure

  7. I hope this is the death knell for this dreadful project! The scale and design are so far removed from the aesthetic for which Coral Gables is known. The Gables needs to stop hiring cronies from the City of Miami and Miami-Dade county.

  8. It seems that every time I drive by this garage, their sign says 100 or more spaces empty if they need to do anything is fill the roof with solar panels that will shade the cars and provide electricity for the existing facility. Too many chefs playing with other people’s money. Lower our taxes by a point, that’s what we really need.

  9. This building was in the wrong location from the beginning. Locating the major parking in the center of the urban/entertainment area will discourage pedestrian activity. Like the psychology behind mall design, locating the anchor tenants at the ends of the mall, forcing people to walk past all the smaller retailers between them, locating the garage at the periphery will then require the patrons walk by all the smaller retailers and restaurants at the edges of the CBD.

    The correct location is the City garage in the 300 block of Andalusia Ave. That land is much larger allowing the garage to be part of a larger project that a developer can at least partially find.

    The current “mobility hub” site can be turned into an urban park.

  10. This Mobility HUB is a “PET PROJECT” of our Leftover City Manager, he fell in “love” with the design and has been pushing hard for it to come to completion! Stop Iglesias and his HUB, we can not afford or want this monstrosity!. Yes, we need more parking in Coral Gables to keep the Mile alive & prosperous for the business owners not to leave. But the “futuristic design” & concept is NOT for Coral Gables. The new fab around the country is gardens, green spaces on roofs tops, abandoned railroad tracks overpass, etc. which is not a bad idea and good for the environment. Perhaps the extra Trolley service on the weekend has help a little with parking? Remember, we don’t have a Strong Mayor, the City Manager is the Power behind the Commission and he should GO with the City Attorney & Mr. Trias!!!!

  11. A mobility hub is a “European Ideal” to eliminate the use of cars and create pedestrian ,bike friendly open spaces. So much has to be in place to make it workable. We in CG nor the County have it and doing it “solo” won’t work. CG serves as a crossway between east and west and north and South; the public transportation around the county has potential but is inefficient and underutilized; it’s too hot to be pedestrian friendly for much of the year; you cannot pass legislation banning cars ; and the technology for advancing carless mobility is still emerging. If you want to be Progressive you have plenty of things you can do without this costly “adventure” into the future.

  12. How much is the city going to have to charge for parking to cover the bond payments?

  13. THis should be yet another wakeup call for all Gables citizens. This current commissioners are such a disappointment and clearly only looking for their own interests. And I am really losing faith in Lago and his administration after his promise of transparency and accountability that he and others were shouting when they were trying to get elected. This hub was a bad idea from the start, truly a waste of resources and had no place in the Gables and certainly not near the mile. Shame on every…single…commissioner that tried to sell this as a good idea. And now that the costs have skyrocketed to criminal proportions, I can’t wait to hear their excuses now. Stop this and I say vote everyone out. I for one will be looking very closely on each of their comments and votes and will vote accordingly. STOP wasting Gables tax payers money on your self indulgent projects and listen to the people of the Gables for what we really need. Shame on you.

  14. To all the public servants in City Hall:

    Don’t spend any of my tax dollars on a $62 million Mobility Hub.

    Don’t spend any of my tax dollars to pay $140 for the parks.

    The election day is closer and closer.

  15. There are many thieves and con artist involved in any construction project from beginning to end. All these are lies & excuses made up by money hungry individuals involved to personally enrich themselves while ripping off the gables citizen. Heavily penalize these parties involved for every day that passes beyond the agreed to project completion date for any reason I mean a $250,000 daily minimum.

  16. I said it in a commission meeting. This monstrosity and eyesore does not belong in our city. And another resident rightly said that the numbers being presented were not accurate or sustainable only to be publicly silenced. I am in favor of building a conventional garage with the right design for our city but we don’t need 12 foot ceilings nor an entertainment area on the top floor.

  17. Hoping it stays in limbo eternally. This out-of-place structure has no place in Coral Gables. Years ago Publix was rejected for a facade change at its Monza store for a similar Disneyesque look. Time for the fat cat bureaucrats to stop living their fantasies at the expense of those who really work for a living and pay the taxes they mismanage. Clean up time is long overdue at City Hall. Unfortunately, there are some fat cats on the commission as well. Thank you Ariel for the continued reporting on what they try to hide from us. Your presence must be a real thorn on all sides. Keep it up.

  18. The big, glass box was a big mistake. The 5 commissioners and the city manager must now face the music. They must stop IMMEDIATELY all taxpayers’ dollars to pay for the Mobility Hub. If not, they will be out of a job after the next election.

  19. The residents know what is right. Hundreds signed petitions against the Mobility Hub.

    The 5 Commissioners and the City Manager, Peter Iglesias, didn’t listen to the residents.

    Now, it is clear the residents were right, and the City officials were wrong.

    This isn’t the first time those City officials have not listened to the residents and have made wrong decisions.

    Stop them before they make more wrong decisions. Another $140 for the parks? No, No, No.

  20. Classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. The City hasn’t even paid off the unfunded liability yet and is considering this? And extreme debt for parks? All at a time when real estate and construction costs are at an all-time high.
    What is wrong with the garage that’s there? And think of the enviro impacts if it is demolished! All in a city that is supposed to be a leader in architectural/environmental preservation.
    I just don’t see what’s wrong with the current garage. It could be restored, pressure washed and painted… add a rooftop garden and clean the blasted place.. plant some beautiful shrubs and flowers out front or even put a lot of orchids on the front facade and it could be beautiful. Cleaning and painting it would do a lot for this building that isn’t an architectural gem but at the same time is not a bastardized modernistic New Formalist monster building like the proposed building that will put us deeper and deeper in debt.

  21. A GODSEND?
    JUST YESTERDAY I SENT THE BELOW EMAIL TO COMMISSIONERS AND ADMINISTRATORS:
    Why is the city NOT integrating the reduction of embodied carbon in its sustainability objectives and its goal of reaching carbon neutrality? Why is this issue not being factored in when new projects are being proposed? Why is this issue missing from the Sustainability Advisory Board’s talking points?

    Excuse me if I use the “MOBILITY HUB” as an example…but it is one project that should be rejected on the sole premise of the need to reduce embodied carbon–a sign of support for a sustainable future. Demolishing the existing garage structure [releasing decades of embodied carbon] only to build a new parking garage? Isn’t one of the city’s sustainability objectives the need to reduce cars? The article, “Carbon Calculus” by Katherine Logan mentions that “Cities worldwide are cutting back on parking requirements” and yet our city of Coral Gables is increasing its parking footprint with a new 10-story parking garage? [And we now learn its cost is escalating by the day.]

    The article also mentions how Gensler [mobility hub architects] “adapted a failing 1960s building reducing embodied carbon by 68% of what new construction would be revitalizing a moribund stretch of a historic city block.” Gensler can certainly adapt an existing garage.

    “I want architects to understand how critically important this is. If there’s existing building infrastructure on-site, we need to consider whether there’s something we can do with it,” says Andrew Rastetter, an architecturally trained structural engineer in the San Francisco office of Buro Happold. Rastetter and cited on the “Carbon” article.

    The time is right for Coral Gables to rethink the new mobility hub, not only in terms of escalating costs that could easily run into the $100 million mark but most importantly for the sake of a sustainable future.

    A paradigm shift of priceless proportions. And Coral Gables must not ignore the signs.

  22. Coral Gables is out of money and due to the pension obligations (thanks to former mayor Don Slesnick) we’re going to find ourselves in a difficult place and even tax increases.

  23. Enough, naysayers! What’s another $30 million in the big scheme of things? Just another couple of Agave Plaza megalithic projects and the RE taxes will pay for any cost overruns!!! Besides, our financial wizards in the administration can surely negotiate floating a variable interest rate bond in a time of rising interest rates. Let’s spare our City Manager’s feelings: a boyhood Hot Wheels dream cannot come crashing down in infamy!
    Seriously, though, residents. Don’t be inveigled. This is just a prelude to Mayor L’Ego foisting the $140 million bond for parks on us. He wants to appear reasonable now killing the Mattel garage. But we’ll pay dearly handing $140 million to the folks who can’t keep our children safe in our own parks!
    Comments from Lagobots welcome.

  24. By all means, throw away another $1MM of resident money on design. It’s only money… right?

  25. This project did not belong in Coral Gables, and it’s financial worthiness was always in question. This article shows is a good reason to kill it, as it should have been dead from the beginning. A good day for coral gables.

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