10 firms compete to study a downtown Miami conference center
By Ashley D. Torres
A feasibility study call by Miami's Downtown Development Authority to continue researching demand for a downtown conference center garnered 10 proposals, with a contract to be awarded by month's end.
The authority is currently evaluating proposals, said Javier Betancourt, its deputy director, and is to discuss them further at the Feb. 18 board meeting. If the board approves a proposal, the authority is to begin a negotiation period and award a contract by Feb. 28.
The analysis study request, called a request for qualifications, allows local firms to determine if a downtown conference center would be viable in 2018 and how the authority, City of Miami and other agencies should pursue the center's development and operation.
The company selected, Mr. Betancourt said, would propose a time frame of three to six months to complete the conference center analysis study.
Among desired study objectives:
Determine if present and future market conditions would support a successful downtown conference center.
Develop a 10-year operation budget.
Determine direct and indirect economic impacts of a facility on downtown and Greater Miami.
Provide strategies for moving forward.
The proposals come after a panel formed by the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research organization, supported plans for a downtown-based meeting space.
In addition, the rising downtown population, determined in an authority consultant study to have jumped 81% over the past ten years, has been cited as a viable community for such a conference center.
If the latest feasibility study finds a demand for a downtown meeting space, the next step, Mr. Betancourt said, could be site analysis.
The land institute panel's study identified the Omni, Miami World Center/Park West and Metropolitan Miami sites as three preliminary locations for the center. These sites are not to be considered in the latest study, Mr. Betancourt said, as they were "thrown out for conversational ideas."
A tentative timeline for a downtown conference center, which was formed by the land institute panel, targets two to three year for pre-development, a few years for construction, a possible 2015 opening and a fully-operational facility by 2018.
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