An $11 million plan to jump-start a long-stalled effort to rebuild the Key Biscayne public library received a largely enthusiastic response from Key Biscayne’s Village Council Tuesday — but the biggest hurdle may be earning approval from condominium residents next door.
County Commissioner Raquel Regalado and County Library Director Ray Baker showed two sets of artists concepts for the library — a one-story or a two-story structure.
“The two-story has more bang for the buck,” Regalado said. She told the Council that demolition and construction would be paid for by the County and no Village funds would be needed.
Baker said the one-story cost estimate is about $8 million, and the two-story option would come in at about $11 million. Design and contract bidding would take about 18 months, with demolition and construction taking an additional year — but only if the litigation with Key Colony is resolved.
The library renovation has been on hold since 2019, when the Key Colony Homeowners Association took legal action to intervene. At the time, condominium leaders said they were worried about traffic and other issues and wanted to be consulted about any expansion.
But new Key Colony President David McDanal said he wants to find a solution, and invited Regalado and Baker to brief the Key Colony board tonight.
“I would like a library that the community can use that would be an asset to Key Colony. It’s something to consider,” he said.
Both designs would occupy the same footprint as the current 40-year-old library, the former sales office for the Key Colony development. And both would leave the current duck pond intact. The one-story design creates 9,169 square feet of enclosed space; the two-story concept, which would be 40 feet high, would create 17,112 square feet of enclosed space.
Regalado says she’s hopeful she can get the project moving by achieving consensus. She and Baker emphasized the proposal is only for a library and no other uses are contemplated. No rooftop event space is being proposed.
“I’m not going to go build something that people hate,” she said. But she did warn that if the project is blocked, the funds will go to another project in District 7.
Property owners pay a separate property tax to fund the County library system.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.