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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.