HomeNewsAccountabilityHobie Beach Park getting $13 million, but cost up 85%

Hobie Beach Park getting $13 million, but cost up 85%

Hobie Beach Park North, which affords stunning views of Miami’s skyline, is finally set to get major repairs after being closed from damage by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The Board of County Commissioners is expected to approve a $12.8 million contract at its meeting Tuesday.

The contractor, Magnum Construction Management, formerly Munilla Construction management, changed its name after a deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University in 2018. The company went through a bankruptcy reorganization and agreed to a $103 million settlement with victims, the Miami Herald reported. 

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The cost of the Hobie Beach Park North overhaul, which includes stabilizing the shoreline of the north side of the Rickenbacker Causeway, has ballooned from $7 million to its current cost of $12.8 million. County parks officials referred questions to Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s office. 

The mayor’s office initially said it could not provide additional information because “cone of silence” provisions restricted its ability to answer basic questions. The silence period terminates once the mayor’s office makes a decision on a project. MCM was the low bidder; the highest bid was nearly $17 million.

As for the higher cost, the administration chalked it up to inflation. “Previous budgetary cost estimates were performed prior to substantial increases in construction cost seen in the industry over the past three years,” said Natalia Jaramillo, a spokesperson.

About 78% of the project is being funded from Causeway tolls, a staff memo says. 

The contract sailed through the County Commission’s Transportation committee hearing last month, getting approval 5-0. 

The plan calls for removing 160 Australian pines, an invasive species, and replacement with 290 native palms, shrubs, and other species. Other work will improve the parking lot and the bicycle path that runs under the William Powell Bridge. 

The repair process has been lengthy, stretching back to early 2020, documents show. As recently as July, 2022, the cost was put at $7.6 million according to a “second resubmittal.”

Prior to the FIU collapse, MCM had been a high-profile contractor in Miami-Dade County, with its leaders being “reliable” donors to county races, the Herald reported in 2021.

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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.

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