By Christopher Russo, Former City Manager
(August 31, 2020) – Every day we work to fulfill our mission to keep Sunny Isles Beach a world class city that offers the highest quality of life for our residents. The completion of the Gateway Center is just the latest extension of our promise.
When the privatization of the space for a market and restaurant fell through, we realized there was a greater need to utilize the building as a recreation facility for residents. The buildout of the Gateway Center is anticipated to be completed by the end of September 2020.
The Gateway Center optimizes 15,000 square feet of interior space at Gateway Park for the usage and enjoyment of residents. When you enter the facility, you will be greeted at the serene reception area. Past the lobby, the facility guides you down a social hallway with seating and game tables. This is a space for socialization, engagement and leisure. Those with a valid City-issued SIB Resident ID Card have access to the facility to utilize the social hallway, hang out, and mingle with friends. Further in is a fitness room with oak wood floors and mirrored walls, large and small classrooms, and a full-fledged catering kitchen. One notable feature of the catering kitchen is a camera system designed to follow chefs cooking in the kitchen with the intention to air the video feed in a classroom or play back at a later date. The kitchen is an added opportunity to expand our program and rental offerings.
Elevating the Gateway Center even further is a 3,600 square foot banquet space, which can accommodate 240 seated at round tables. Equipped with top-of-the-line technology, the ballroom will be available to rent for presentations, receptions, weddings, and various special events. Throughout the Center you will be privy to our audio/visual equipment, which connects sound and music throughout the facility in the hallways, rooms, and in the exterior surrounding the banquet space. Unlike any other facility in the City, a Hearing Loop system is built into the floor of the banquet space and fitness room. While invisible to the eye, this high-tech solution delivers sound from the AV system directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants with telecoils, strengthening the sound of the presenter for those who have difficulty hearing. As in every aspect of our work, we strive to provide accessible services for all residents.
The aesthetic of the Gateway Center is emblematic of our oceanfront location with blue, green and coral colors dispersed throughout. Providing a calm, relaxing and safe space for residents to enjoy was critical during the design phase.
The Center will also have a satellite visitor center, an addition to the original one in the Government Center. Promotional merchandise will be on sale such as shirts, cups, and key chains, as well as light food and beverage items including coffee, sodas and snacks.
Barring any unexpected delays, staff will be able to move in beginning this October. As you might have guessed, COVID-19 restrictions have delayed a grand opening event for the Gateway Center. In the meantime, our team is diligently preparing programming and events for when it is safe to open and we can share this new space with all of our residents. We are also drawing up a facility rental package for the banquet space with the hopes of accepting rental applications for 2021, providing that it is safe to do so.
It is bittersweet to celebrate the completion of our brandnew facility that was championed by former Sunny Isles Beach Commissioner Roslyn Brezin, who passed away in February 2019. It was her staunch determination and vision that served as the impetus for the buildout of the Gateway Center. As we prepare to open the facility, we remember her leadership and advocacy for residents, and seniors in particular, in Sunny Isles Beach.
When it is safe to open, the Gateway Center will be an elite facility for residents to learn new skills by sampling a selection of diverse programs, for teens to meet in a safe setting without their parents, and for seniors to gather for social activities. We are excited for the opportunities the Gateway Center will provide all residents of Sunny Isles Beach.