Chamber Has No Plans To Move Out Of Longtime Headquarters
Written by Eric Kalis on October 19, 2006
By Eric Kalis
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is staying put in its longtime headquarters at the Radisson Miami Downtown, chamber officials say.
The chamber has leased space on the ballroom level of the Radisson, 1601 Biscayne Blvd., since 1982. Chamber President and CEO Barry Johnson said the organization is in a long-term lease agreement with Radisson officials and there are no immediate plans to build or buy a new home.
The chamber’s headquarters has become a familiar landmark in a rapidly growing section of downtown Miami, Mr. Johnson said, sparked by the opening of the Carnival Center of the Performing Arts two blocks away. After recovering from losing about $2 million to internal theft several years ago, chamber officials do not want to spend the bulk of the chamber’s $1 million cash reserves on a new headquarters, he said.
The August remodeling of the chamber’s Ray Goode-Ryder Conference Center in the Radisson is another reason chamber officials say they do not need to find another headquarters. The chamber hosts press conferences, meetings and other programs in the center.
"The Radisson has become a town square for the business community," Mr. Johnson said. "We are challenged by rising prices, so we want to manage the investments of our members well."
While chamber officials are now adamant about staying in the Radisson for the foreseeable future, the idea of moving has been brought up, said Carlos Fernandez-Guzman, chamber first vice chairman. The notion never moved beyond the discussion phase, he said.
The chamber should remain based in a revitalized Biscayne Boulevard, Mr. Fernandez-Guzman said. The Carnival Center will kick-start a bevy of commercial activity in the area, he said.
All chamber committee meetings are held at the headquarters, so chamber officials make sure to hold special events at different locations, Mr. Johnson said. A member survey revealed a desire to use multiple venues throughout Miami-Dade County for Goals conferences and 100th-anniversary festivities, he said. The 2007 goals conference is scheduled for June 1 at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
As chamber officials seek to expand the chamber’s membership and programming, they are being especially prudent about using chamber funds, said Treasurer John Messer. Chamber officials will only spend money on initiatives or events that offer a direct return on members’ investments, he said.
"We will not buy a building or refurbish the current headquarters," Mr. Messer said. "We have a fabulous office, and there is no value to our members to spend money on new furniture."