Along-sought county government center for western Miami-Dade County is on track to become a reality in West Kendall.
Co-sponsored by Commissioners Juan C. Zapata and Audrey M. Edmonson, an enabling resolution allocates $10 million from the current $255 million five-year draw of BBC (Building Better Communities) bond funding for financing.
Following a July 14 county commission public hearing, the action was approved 12-0 after moved by Edmonson and seconded by Jose “Pepe” Diaz. Commissioner Esteban Bovo was absent at the time of voting.
Two previous uncommitted BBC allocations of $1.39 million and $8.61 million for unspecified “future use facilities” in current BBC capital improvements outlays were combined to finance initial development of the West Dade center.
In the resolution, it is described as “similar to the South Dade Government Center, North Dade Justice Center and Caleb Center,” and specifies its location west of Florida’s Turnpike.
Formal action to fund the new center was initiated by Zapata and Edmondson on July 9 as members of the Economic Prosperity Committee, one of six special commission committees appointed by chair Jean Monestine in January to pursue special projects to enhance county infrastructure and capital projects.
The enabling resolution was primarily based on an October 2013 feasibility report by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez that was sought originally by Zapata who urged study for 733,000 residents relying on county municipal services in unincorporated areas of West Miami-Dade.
Mayor Giminez then advised that space needed “could range anywhere from 35,000 to 100,000 square feet,” depending upon addition of courtroom facilities.
At that time, the mayor cited two county-owned properties as potential West Dade Center locations: Miami Executive Airport (former Tamiami- Kendall Executive Airport) and Kendall Cottages on SW 80th Terrace, now eliminated by the “west of Florida’s Turnpike” direction.
The feasibility study earmarked the county’s Permitting and Inspection Center, 11805 Coral Way, and Beckman- Coulter Office Park, 11860 SW 147 Ave., as existing commercial sites with suitable space.
Seven privately owned West Kendall properties requiring acquisition of vacant land were listed for consideration:
• Leon Medical, northwest corner of SW 137th Avenue and 120th Street (4.83 acres);
• AB at Hidden Lake, southwest corner of SW 128th Street and 127th Avenue (12 acres);
• Kendall Hammocks (Lennar), northwest corner of SW 167th Avenue and 88th Street (8.72 acres);
• Lucky Start Building, 8785 SW 165 Ave. (current location of Commissioner Zapata’s District Office);
• Miami Baptist Church, 14955 SW 88 St. (5.0 acres)
• Centre at Kendall Town Center, southeast corner of SW 88th Street and 162nd Avenue (11.8 acres), and
• West Kendall Holdings, SW 88th Street, from 157th Avenue to SW 162nd Avenue (70 acres).
Among direct services Mayor Gimenez cited for the center, dependent upon “area needs:” branch offices for water/sewer, property appraiser, county commissioners, state and federal district agencies, juvenile services, tax collection and property appraiser, animal services, community outreach, courtrooms, county clerk and state attorney. Special facilities could include a branch police office, fire-rescue department or library
For more than 20 years, West Kendall residents have appeared at countless community council meetings and project public hearings, asking county officials to establish a government office or community center in unincorporated Kendall.
During early 2000s, “Team Metro” offices operated throughout the county with two Kendall locations but services were largely limited to dog licenses, transit permits and passport applications. The offices were abandoned during the 2009 budget crunch.
After the 2012 election, District 11 Commissioner Zapata began focusing attention on building a greater identity for what his office calls Miami-Dade’s “West End.” His efforts include new land use planning, extension of SR 836 west from NW 137th Avenue, and developing Miami Executive Airport as a commercial hub for the area.