MIAMI GARDENS — When the area was incorporated in 2003, the founders of the city of Miami Gardens pledged that residents of the state’s largest black municipality would be provided better services than they previously got from Miami-Dade County.
The city also undertook an extensive beautification initiative that included major landscaping, an anti-litter campaign and strict code enforcement that helped to get rid of eyesores such as abandoned buildings and vehicles.
But the centerpiece is a new multimillion dollar environmentally-friendly city hall which the 110,000 residents will be able to use after its formal opening on Tuesday, coinciding with the 11th state of the city address.
The city council and other departments have already begun the big move from their offices at 1515 NW 167th St., where they occupied rented space for the past 10 years, into the new free-standing facility located at 18605 NW 27th Ave.
The public will get a chance to tour what is touted as the largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum-certified city hall complex in the nation starting at 3 p.m., with tours occurring in 30-minute intervals throughout the day, ending with Mayor Oliver Gilbert’s state of the city address at 7 p.m.
“With a new city hall building, new additions to our staff and a new general obligation bond, the city is on the cusp of some very big changes. Along with these changes come big opportunities to evolve into the community that we want to be,” Gilbert said in a written statement.
The complex, which includes an 8,500-square-foot council chamber, a three-story 63,000-square-foot city hall, and a 170,000-square-foot parking garage, will house 500 city employees. A 67,000-square-foot police headquarters is expected to be completed later this year.
After the groundbreaking in summer 2012, construction of the city hall was delayed for several months to allow for repairs to cracks in support beams, adding at least $7 million to the original budget of $55 million.
The delay pushed back the expected opening in July 2013 for the city hall building and in September for the police headquarters.
Gilbert, the city’s only second mayor – was elected to office in 2012 after Shirley Gibson was term-limited. Gilbert previously served as a councilman, initially appointed and subsequently elected to the city council in 2008 to fill the vacant Seat 6.
Since taking office, Gilbert has been confronted with a growing violent crime rate, including several murders. He spearheaded a $60 million general obligation bond which residents approved at a special election in April. Bond proceeds will pay for renovating several city parks and a new culinary facility and add security equipment which the police will use hopefully to help deter and solve crimes.
A lifelong resident of the area, Gilbert said that his upcoming speech will capture the city’s progress and potential.
“At the core, this year’s state of the city address is about acknowledging the existence of change and embracing the endless possibilities that come along with it,” Gilbert said. “This speech is about fortifying the residents for the journey ahead and assuring them that our potential as a city is limited only by our commitment to invest in ourselves and our community.”