MIAMI GARDENS – Two steel cranes hover over the three unfinished buildings. Dust flies as construction workers sit on ledges hammering away, while others operate heavy machinery or inspect sections of the building already completed.
Big wheel construction trucks move freely on a newly paved side street, which, for years, was a dinky pothole-covered road that residents used to get to the shopping center next door. It’s hot, but everyone is busy.
This is the site, on Northwest 27th Avenue and about Northwest 185th Street, where the city of Miami Gardens’ new, LEED platinum-certified city hall complex is taking shape.
When finished, the building will be the largest LEED platinum city hall complex in the nation.
The buildings, which include an 8,500-square-foot council chamber, a three-story 63,000-square-foot city hall, a 67,000-square-foot police headquarters and a 170,000-square-foot parking garage, will house 500 of the city’s employees.
The $55 million price tag is funded by a bond and this is the last major project which members of the original City Council planned in their vision for the city.
“I made the recommendation to the council that we move forward with the project and that we do it LEED platinum,” City Manager Danny Crew said.
Crew, who will have to retire next year under state guidelines, has been the city’s second employee. The project “really is something that I am very proud of and a legacy that I will be personally very proud to leave to the city,” Crew said.“I think it is something that the residents will find useful because of the location and the facility that will be available. It’s something that they can take pride in. It’s something that nobody else will have but them.”
The complex is being built in two phases. The city hall and parking garage will open in November or December and the police department around May or June 2014.
The city has been spending about $70,000 per month to rent the space currently housing the city hall. After the relocation, the current location of the police department will stay open as a backup emergency station. The city owns the building.
The new city hall is being built as a state-of-the-art Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED platinum-certified building. LEED is the rating system used to quantify the level of highly energy-efficient buildings.
“We really wanted to do something first class for the community. This community has had years and years of less than desirable things built up here and that’s one of the reasons we became a city. We wanted something first class for our residents,” Crew said.
Skanska is the contractor which won the bid for the construction. Sustainability is one of the company’s core practices, company officials said. Skanska also has a LEED and Sustainability Center of Excellence and boasts the largest number of LEED-accredited professionals in the nation.
“The challenges faced when building a LEED building are the materials. Because of where we are – South Florida – the required material is hard to get because of our resources,” said LEED Project Manager Vincent Collins.
LEED has four certification levels, certified, silver, gold and platinum with platinum being the highest.
“Platinum is the highest degree of incorporation of energy savings and design. The majority of the functionality of the building is generated during the design process,” Collins said.
The building will be fitted with climate control, adjusted lighting, motion censored lights, low flow sinks, and a rainwater harvester for irrigation.
Collins estimates with all of the energy efficient fixtures in place the city will save between 20 and 30 percent on utility cost.
“This has been a very good project from the beginning. This is a really big honor to be able to work on this project,” Collins said.
Ramone Cowert, a 35-year resident of Miami Gardens, is pleased at the construction talking place.
“I believe that it’s great, because, for the city, it’s the first real governmental-type building. For it to be a leader in the new stages of green buildings, especially in a black community, that should bring press; it should bring a lot of different people through here. We’re pioneers,” Cowert said.
Cowert also hopes that, with the improvements being made to the city’s facilities, businesses will be inspired to move to Miami Gardens.
“I’m just happy that the building is in my community. I’m proud to call this place home,” said resident Terrance Williams.
*MIAMI GARDENS: New police headquarters building is part of the $55 million complex off Northwest 27th Avenue.