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Friday, August 19, 2016

The art of the protest - Procurement controversy series, Miami, Florida

Art dealer files protest in Miami Dade College project
Miami art dealer Gary Nader has filed a bid protest against Miami Dade College after losing out on a multi-million dollar development project on campus, according to paperwork obtained by on Sunday. The college, which wouldn’t front any money, would give away the development rights and later get to operate the “cultural centers.”

The idea for the project began as Nader’s own unsolicited pitch to the school last May: To build a world-class Latin American art museum with his family’s name on it, which he would start up with $60 million worth of pieces from his own collection. The project has since grown into a mélange of uses because the college soon grew more interested in having a theater and conference center. Related’s plan more than halves the size of the museum that Nader had first proposed. All of the proposals include luxury residential condo towers to be sold to offset the costs of the cultural parts of the development.

Among its many allegations, the 49-page protest says winning bidder and Nader’s nemesis—developer Jorge Pérez, CEO of Related Group—lowballed the college more than $100 million in an “exceedingly low valuation” of the eventual development, which would be a public-private partnership. Nader’s protest also says the college has so far failed to respond to his lawyers’ public records requests for documents related to the review and selection process.

The protest also alleges a conflict of interest by attorney Al Dotson with the South Florida law firm of Bilzin Sumberg. Dotson, it says, advised Miami Dade College during the development bidding process but also worked for Related on a separate affordable housing project before the Miami-Dade County Commission.

The document also complains of inappropriate contacts between a Related executive and a lawyer advising the college despite a communications blackout between bidders and school officials, known as a “cone of silence.” “The evidence shows that the college promoted favoritism throughout the solicitation process,” it says. “…The ‘cone of silence’ was a moving target that continued to change, for no other reason, than to support favoritism.”

The protest document asks that all action toward the project stop until the dispute is resolved. It seeks a re-evaluation of all proposals by an “impartial evaluation committee.”
Fight over Miami Dade College’s cultural center takes more legal twists
Friday’s challenge came after weeks of legal wrangling over the price of a required protest bond and public records related to an internal college investigation.

(See prior post)
Art Dealer Gary Nader Butts Heads With ‘Condo King’ Jorge Perez Over Bid for New Miami Museum
It's a heated and highly personal battle.

It’s safe to assume that Miami art dealer Gary Nader thought his pitch to Miami Dade College for a multi-million-dollar campus development, including a 90,000-square-foot museum of Latin American art with $60 million worth of work from his own collection, would be welcomed with open arms. The proposal reportedly didn’t even require the school to put up any money; it would take ownership of the culture center in exchange for giving over a parking lot.

But when college officials—citing their status as a public institution—opened up the potential development to other proposals, and then gave top ranking to a rival bid from real estate firm Related, run by Miami “condo king” Jorge Perez of the Perez Art Museum Miami, Nader struck back. His limited partnership Nader + Museu filed a detailed 49-page formal “protest bid” on August 12, which contains nearly 400 pages of accompanying exhibits directed at Miami Dade College purchasing department, opposing an agreement with Related.

The papers claim that the agreement “failed to comply with requirements for a public-private partnership, repeatedly violated the express terms and conditions of this solicitation and offered an exceeding low valuation for the right to develop private improvements on College owned land…” It notes a $158.5 million difference between “the first and second highest ranked proposers,” calling it “astounding.” (See, Abnormally low vs unreasonably low bid)

William Riley, an attorney for Nader, told artnet News via email that there is “a statutorily prescribed opportunity to resolve the protest by mutual agreement between the parties within 7 business days after receipt of the formal written protest” filed on August 12. “We have notified the college that we are available to speak and/or meet within this timeframe. They have not responded to us.”

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