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Art in Public Places: Regulatory Burden or Opportunity?

The concept of art in public places is well-established in the United States. As early as the 1930s, the federal government created New Deal programs that paid artists to create works of art for display in municipal buildings and other public civic properties.  Similarly, Miami-Dade County has required since the 1970s that art be provided in the amount of 1.5% of total construction costs for any governmental development, including private development on public land.  The County’s program has yielded several notable works of public art, including the “Red M” by Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt at the Riverwalk Metromover station and “Slide Mantra” by Isamu Noguchi.  The recently installed floors in Terminal D at Miami International Airport are also a product of the County’s program.  Other local jurisdictions, including the City of Miami Beach, have more recently adopted similar programs.

Earlier this year, the City of Miami adopted a requirement that public art be installed in new public buildings, but declined at that time to extend the program to private development in the City.  However, the City is now considering a new ordinance  that would extend such requirements to all private development, not just private development on public land, which would therefore make the City’s program the most expansive in South Florida.  If adopted, the new ordinance would require public art to be provided at new privately constructed buildings that is equal to up to 1.25% of the total construction cost or, in the alternative, a payment of up to 1% of construction costs may be made to an art fund.

Many real estate developers view these programs as yet another regulatory burden that drives up the costs of new development in South Florida.  To be sure, art in public places programs add to total construction costs.  However, with some creativity, there are opportunities to reduce the cost of compliance.  We have been involved in many private developments subject to Art in Public Places, and in some cases, the County’s 1.5% requirement actually increases the total development cost by less than 0.5%.  Furthermore, public art is not simply red tape–it can potentially increase the value of the development.  This, too, should be considered when developing a strategy for compliance with any applicable public-art regulations.

© 2018 Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP


About this Author

Javier Avino, Government Relations partner, Bilzin Sumberg Law Firm

Javier F. Aviñó is a Partner in Bilzin Sumberg's Government Relations & Land Development Group, where he focuses his practice in land use, zoning, and environmental law. Javier represents clients in complex matters including the development approval process, DERM permitting, planning and zoning applications, code enforcement, comprehensive planning and other environmental law areas. Javier also has experience representing both private and public sector clients before various state, county, municipal governments and regulatory bodies throughout South Florida....

Albert E. Dotson, Government Procurement Attorney, Bilzin Sumberg Law firm

Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Land Development & Government Relations Practice Group Leader, handles federal and local government procurement contracts and compliance. He also represents real estate developers in securing land use, zoning and other government approvals and permits for large-scale real estate developments. Al routinely negotiates economic development incentive programs on behalf of major U.S. corporate clients.

Al's work includes representing developers and contractors in complying with the government procurement procedures of various agencies of the Federal government, State of Florida, Miami-Dade County and the cities of Miami, Coral Gables and Miami Beach. This representation includes responding to procurement solicitations through defending against or prosecuting quasi-judicial bid protests. He represents commercial, industrial, residential and mixed-use developers throughout the land development process, including development permit challenges, zoning, concurrency, platting and permitting. Al's work also includes representing developers in Public-Private Partnerships (P3) that have included the redevelopment of municipal property by a private developer with the infrastructure, other public improvements and tax abatement provided by the local governing body.

Daniel Goldberg Attorney Bilzin Sumberg

As an Assistant City Attorney in Miami, Daniel gained valuable knowledge in land use issues that he applies as an Associate in Bilzin Sumberg's Land Development & Government Relations Group. Daniel's practice includes land use, planning and zoning, and he has experience in public-private partnership (P3) projects. 

In addition to his public sector experience in the City of Miami's Land Use/Transactional Division, Daniel worked as a legislative aide for a Miami city commissioner where he drafted legislation and worked on the City's voting...


Eric Singer is an Associate in the Government Relations & Land Development Group. His practice focuses on government procurement contracts and the development approval process, including planning and zoning applications, government approvals and permits. Eric also represents clients in quasi-judicial matters and has handled land use cases in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels.