Last month, U.S. General Service Administration (GSA) Public Buildings Service (PBS) Commissioner Norman Dong signed an unique lease agreement with Miami Dade College (MDC), kicking off an ambitious plan to bring a 170,000-square foot depression-era landmark in downtown Miami back to life.
The historic David W. Dyer Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse is considered a significant example of the Spanish-Mediterranean Revival style of architecture and is believed to be the largest structure in South Florida ever constructed with local limestone. Despite being built during the height of the Great Depression, the Dyer Building features a grand design with elaborate detailing and interior artwork.
Opened in 1933 as the home to all the federal offices in Miami (with the exception of the United States Weather Bureau), the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Renamed to honor Judge David W. Dyer in 1997, the courthouse was the scene of several historic legal events, including the 1991 trial of deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. However, the last tenant left the complex in 2008, leaving an important downtown space underutilized. Until now.
The lease MDC signed with GSA is for 65 years, with renewal terms of 20, 15 and 15 years. Annual rent set at $1 for the first term, with nominal increases during the subsequent renewal terms. In exchange, the College will rebuild the iconic building, while also preserving and protecting its historical elements and artwork. The facility will provide classroom and learning spaces for MDC students, and will serve as a location for community activities.
Commissioner Dong noted that the unique agreement puts this building to good use supporting the local community and encouraging economic growth. The outlease reflects a more aggressive approach at GSA to identify new uses for underutilized federal buildings. In this case, an historic building will continue to be a vital part of the Miami community for many years to come.
Working together GSA and MDC will be preserving an historic part of Miami while saving valuable taxpayer dollars. But most importantly, this outlease will ensure that the Dyer Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse will remain what it has been since it was constructed in 1931: a valuable resource for everyone who calls Miami home.
To learn more about GSA’s historic properties, please visit our Center for Historic Buildings.