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Miami Beach is planning a massive, first-of-its-kind project to build a 500-car parking garage with a community center and two swimming pools — one Olympic-sized — on its roof. The current all-in cost for the project is $107M.
Some residents are opposing the project, saying it’s too costly, too risky and unnecessary.
City of Miami Beach
Miami Beach is planning a parking garage with an Olympic-sized pool on the roof.
As explained in a Sept. 17 memo from City Manager Alina Hudak, voters in 2018 approved a ballot measure that authorized the issuance of a general obligation bond for numerous city projects, including the 72nd Street Community Complex to be located at 72nd Street between Collins Avenue and Harding Avenue. General obligation bonds worth $53.8M were allocated for the project, and an additional $10.6M was allocated from other sources.
A design criteria package called for a 500-space parking garage, a 50-meter competition pool, a 25-meter multipurpose pool, a 7,500 SF library, 5K SF of commercial/retail space, a 7,500 SF fitness center, a 5K SF community center, 60K SF of active green space and a jogging path. Three proposals were evaluated, and a proposal from Jacksonville, Florida-based Haskell won.
Haskell’s project was designed with Arquitectonica. The proposal quotes aquatic consultant Timothy Sheehan saying the only comparable project in the world is one being built in Fort Lauderdale (which is not on a roof but has a $5M dive tower), about 22 miles away.
“Even with our team members’ decades of experience engineering and designing pools throughout the country, we have yet to see such an ambitious project,” Sheehan said.
The pool would be built using North Carolina-based Bradford Products’ stainless steel pool system, which can be welded together as one piece, with a liner. It would have 10 lap lanes, be 9 feet at its deepest and have a 75-foot-by-75-foot movable floor system to raise the floor up and down to adjust depth in the shallow end.
“Offset heavy loads like Olympic-sized pools don’t just generate heavy vertical loads but also create large lateral forces including the structure to lunge in one direction,” the proposal says, adding that structural engineer Andrew Sullivan accounted for that.
The city manager’s memo said that the project’s all-in cost of $107M includes Haskell’s $85M guaranteed maximum price. With the money already identified for the project, there is still a funding gap of $42.6M. Options for more funding include issuing parking bonds of approximately $19.4M, selling the beachfront site of the North Shore Branch Library (appraised at $75M, with the sale of certain parcels requiring a public vote) and selling five other city-owned parcels worth $16.2M.
At Friday’s meeting, commissioners were slated to vote on three options: keep working with Haskell and find new funding sources, choose a different developer or change the design criteria. Because the commission meeting went long, the vote got bumped. The commissioners did discuss the potential sale of the library parcels and agreed to hold a public meeting.
“The weight of the water, about 750,000 gallons, is close to 5,000 tons,” resident Ariana Hernandez-Reguant said in a post on Medium voicing concerns about the pool project.
One of the reasons for a pool is so a swim team from Miami Beach Senior High School, which is about 5 miles from the site, has a better facility to use than the one it currently uses at Flamingo Park. Hernandez-Reguant wrote there are only about 14 people on that swim team and argued that a smaller 25-foot competition pool would suffice or the team could use an existing Olympic pool in the city of Miami.
Residents started a petition opposing the project. The petition says the existing surface parking lot is usually half-empty and alleged that the new garage is to compensate for a coming 21-story project nearby for which the developer wasn’t required to build a garage.
“Public land should not be used to accommodate private residential construction,” the petition says.