Convention bureau backs Beach center plans
Written by Nina Lincoff on January 29, 2014
With a lot riding on a Miami Beach Convention Center update, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau says it fully supports the new plan to court proposals for the convention center and hotel separately instead of the now-rejected plan to do them jointly..
The convention center modernization project is moving forward with the dual approach now in the works for an updated center and a convention headquarters hotel. With the bureau responsible for booking and courting conferences and business to the convention center, a completed and modern center can only improve business.
“The Miami Beach Convention Center modernization project is very much alive and our board yesterday afternoon listened to the mayor… Our board is very supportive of this approach,” William D. Talbert III, bureau president and CEO, said Tuesday.
“Other than the hotel, there are the same specifications that were bid on the last time – the ballroom, the meeting space, the tech improvements, the building itself,” Mr. Talbert said.
Plans for the hotel have moved off site, probably across the street and potentially at the City Hall site on 17th Street. There is also the possibility, Mr. Talbert said, that there will be two convention center hotels.
“Our competition sometimes has two, three or even four hotels. There is broad support for the commission on the Beach for a headquartered hotel,” he said.
In terms of timeline, a request for proposal or quote is to go out in March for the convention center update, followed by a separate proposal in April for the adjacent hotel. A major difference between the two proceedings is that the convention center project doesn’t require a public vote, while the hotel will require a two-thirds public vote.
“We’ll win that public vote because a convention headquartered hotel is an essential component of a successful convention center,” Mr. Talbert said.
A stipulation of both the current and past project is that the convention center keep operating during the modernization, and the convention bureau has continued to book business in the building moving forward.
The City of Miami Beach is also supporting the bureau in retaining and attracting business. “The mayor is prepared to speak with meeting planners who have already booked business about the building remaining,” Mr. Talbert said.
Art Basel, which has had a relationship with the convention center for over a decade, is comfortable with the approach, he said.
Accessories like retail and restaurants on the convention center campus have been put on hold while the center modernization and hotel proposals are locked down.
For the bureau, Mr. Talbert said, the priority was always the headquartered convention center hotel.