St. Stephen’s Breaks Ground on Arts and Innovation Center
December 20, 2018
On December 20, we held a Groundbreaking Ceremony for our new Arts and Innovation Center. The Right Reverend Peter Eaton, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, and Ken Russell, City of Miami Commissioner, joined Board and Vestry members, current families, alumni, and members of our construction team to celebrate this effort. Students donned hard hats as the community gathered around the construction site.
"We are building for the future.” said Silvia Larrauri, Head of School. "This new facility will be transformational in the lives of our students, faculty, and school at large.”
For months, our construction leadership team has been working tirelessly with the City to finalize tree relocation and Master Permitting. We are beyond excited to inform you that we just received our Master Permit from the City of Miami.
This Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend the construction fence will be expanded to incorporate the Flag Salute courtyard. Our maintenance crew will carefully remove our graduate pavers and will secure them during our construction.
The Flag Salute courtyard will remain fenced for the three-week period of Monday, November 19 through Friday, December 7. During this time our construction team will relocate the trees and complete the infrastructure for cabling and utilities.
While we won't be able to have Flag Salute during this period, homeroom teachers will allow time for pledges, birthdays, and news sharing every morning. Foot traffic will follow the corridors of the courtyard building. Flag Salute will resume its usual practice on Monday, December.
I also want to take this opportunity and extend our deepest appreciation for your patience and level of support for this project. We are at $4.3M of our $5M goal. This is quite a feat for our Little School by the Bay! Your generous spirit continues to be the gateway for our depth and breadth as a school. Fundraising efforts will remain constant as our Board Development Chairs, our Campaign Steering committee, chaired by Sebastian Echavarria and Katie Nicholas, and I meet with families.
We will be having a Groundbreaking Ceremony in December once all trees have been relocated and will inform you of the date and time as soon as it is confirmed. I would love to have our entire community join us as we officially embark on the Arts & Innovation Center construction.
During the summer, we began preparations for construction. The existing building was completely linked to the fire alarms and network systems on campus. A good part of the summer was spent taking apart the existing building systems that were tied into the campus. We worked closely with the City of Miami Fire Department to ensure the fire alarm system and the fire sprinkler systems remain active and are fully functional.
In addition, one of the school’s assets is the beautiful trees and our canopy that exists here in Coconut Grove and particularly on this campus. We are preserving trees within the construction zone. They are either staying on-site or being donated to the parks or medians in the local community. We are taking every step to make sure we are very respectful to what has made Coconut Grove beautiful. That process requires some extra work. It requires us taking time to properly root prune trees and the City requires a waiting period. The trees that you see within our construction zone have been root pruned and we are going through that waiting period now.
At the same time, the general contractor and subcontractors are getting prepared to start as soon as the trees can be relocated in the coming weeks. We are also finalizing our building permits.
Between the Arts Festival and Spring Break, there will be a period of time when a larger part of that parking lot will be taken up while we connect utilities for the new building to the City connections at the end of the driveway. We will be continuously mindful about providing a safe environment for the children to be dropped off and picked up. The goal will be to continue into the summer with the final preparations for construction. The main courtyard will remain as it is until we get into the summer.
Last week, we began to make room for our new Arts and Innovation Center. Ray Lastra, Mariví Nevin, Ron Daw and members of our Board of Trustees have been working diligently to move our construction forward. The timeline we thought we would accomplish over the summer hit some procedural City glitches. However, all systems will be in forward motion soon and we will begin to see some semblance of active construction for the Arts & Innovation Center. Cannot wait! I know you are just as excited as I am with the prospect of what this new facility will mean for both our Church and School.
I am thrilled to share the following construction update. My goal is to keep you informed of what will transpire here during the summer months. We are ready for the construction of the Arts & Innovation Center to begin! The generous support from our families thus far has helped us reach over $3.8M of our $5M goal in just one year! This feat is only made possible by families who are vested in our students' education and that believe and are committed to our pursuit of excellence. And for this, I am most grateful!
Recently the Arts & Innovation project received its Warrants and Waivers Entitlement Approvals from the City of Miami, releasing the project to proceed with the construction as designed. The team continues to work through the permitting of the master permits per the approved plans. With these approvals, we are also released to receive the demolition permit and commence construction work upon completion of the school year.
At the start of the summer break, the general contractor will be mobilizing on site to start the demolition. The current fencing will be expanded to include a portion of the McFarlane parking lot to allow for the contractor's layout area along with the closure and removal of the play court as part of demolition. After this demolition, construction will begin on the foundations of the new building along with the underground utilities throughout the site. Construction will also commence on the Flag Salute Courtyard. The goal is the completion of all work in the courtyard during the summer break in order to provide the courtyard upon return for the new school year. Our project will proceed with the installation of the building's foundations and construction of the building structure.
Upon the start of the new school year, the student drop-off and pick-up area will be in the same location as it currently exists but will be reduced in size to allow for the construction. All construction activities will be held to within the fenced-in areas during school hours, with all personnel and materials coordinated to arrive and depart at times to not interfere with the normal operations of the school day.
Please check back for additional updates throughout the summer!
We commenced construction activities for the Arts and Innovation building while our students were away on Spring Break. The small courtyard buildings were cleared of all hazardous materials; the air quality testing performed after the removal returned an all-clear result. We submitted this positive report document to the county and we continue to work with the City for the final approval of our demolition permits.
We have installed the construction fence with banners showcasing the Arts & Innovation Center around the perimeter of the existing buildings. The McFarlane lot and the play court will remain available for use until we receive our demolition permit. Once we have the permit we will expand the fence to incorporate these areas. Demolition of the building will occur during a weekend to minimize the impact to the school day activities.
Simultaneously, we continue to work through the master building permit approval process at the city and county. We will continue to communicate with you as we finalize our timeline.
The security and safety of our students remains first and foremost, every day and equally during this exciting time. We continue to have an off-duty police officer and Ms. Erika Mercado, our security guard, on campus. Once the demolition is finalized, the access to our campus will change and so will our security procedures.
Below are some reminders. We appreciate your patience and cooperation.
- The entrance to our campus during school hours is through the Main Highway Welcome Office, only. The McFarlane entry closes after Flag Salute and reopens at 4pm.
- The McFarlane staggered dismissal starts at 2:30 for PK through SK, 2:45 for Grades 1-2 and 3:00 for Grades 3-5. Please arrive at your designated time.
- Parking is extremely limited on our campus. Please refer to our Centralized Valet Parking communication dated January 29, 2018 for details.
These are very exciting times for our Little School by The Bay, as we get ready not only to celebrate our rich history of 60 years and also pave the way for continued excellence in the future. We will continue to bring you updates and keep you informed.
I am deeply grateful for the support we have received thus far on this front. We will continue moving further with everyone's support.