Six potential sites named for downtown Miami convention center
By Paola Iuspa
The Downtown Miami Convention Center Task Force on Tuesday will begin cutting a list of six sites proposed for a new hall. They include the Omni Mall and Dupont Plaza.
Headed by Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton and made up of city staff, hotel and property managers, the task force will scrutinize locations for a 440,000-square-foot center with up to 150,000 square feet of meeting space. Two city-hired consulting firms together picked the downtown sites.
CSL International of Minnesota and HOK Sport + Venue + Event of Missouri are to present construction cost estimates, funding sources and a timetable, said Adam Lukin of the Downtown Development Authority, which is leading the effort.
The sites, said David Greusel, with HOK, are:
On the north bank of the Miami River between Miami and First avenues.
The northwest corner of West Flagler Street and Biscayne Boulevard across from Bayfront Park.
On the boulevard between Second and Fourth streets across from the park.
Park West between the American Airlines Arena and the Miami Arena.
Authority staff, business leaders and hospitality experts proposed about 10 sites for a financial study that is still in the making, Mr. Greusel said.
As part of the $87,000 report, consultants targeted six, said Stuart Blumberg, president & CEO of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association and a task force member. The Dupont, Omni and West Flagler make the most sense, he said, "but those sites also have some problems."
The city would need to buy and raze the Dupont Plaza and that would be costly, Mr. Blumberg said. He said Omni's new tenant, International Fine Arts College, would have to coexist with the hall.
The West Flagler site is too constricted as it is, he said. The city would need to buy surrounding properties to add room.
"Someone will have to come up with a lot of money," Mr. Blumberg said.
Size, access, transportation and expansion room are other key ingredients, he said.
The task force meets for a third time at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Hyatt Regency Miami, said Robert Murray, James L. Knight Center general manger and a task force member.
While the task force assesses need for the hall, consultants said much must occur before it is feasible. That includes adding 50,000 square feet for multipurpose use at the Miami Beach Convention Center to bring use to full capacity, Mr. Blumberg said.
Developing downtown with restaurants, shops and entertainment for conventioneers is also needed, Mr. Murray said.
Both recommendations came in a report the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau hired CSL, a planning firm specializing in sports and entertainment industries, to prepare last year. That study suggested looking at sites and buying land before costs rise.
John Kaatz, CSL vice president, said Miami has plenty of convention space and must carefully calculate when demand may justify a new center.