Big names vie to build first Miami International Airport hotel in 60 years
Three firms are on a shortlist to build the first new hotel at Miami International Airport (MIA) in more than six decades, and they feature names known to the Miami-Dade development community.
The firms were the only ones to respond to a bid request the county issued in October, according to Rita Silva, division director of procurement for Miami-Dade Internal Services. Each qualified for the project in the first of two procurement phases, she said.
“The county is working toward issuing the phase 2 procurement [now],” she told Miami Today by email.
All three firms have local ties. They include:
■FDR Miami Hotel LLC, whose filing with the Florida Division of Corporations lists the New York address of global real estate developer The Related Companies, founded and led by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
■Mainsail Development International LLC, a subsidiary of Tampa-based hotel builder and operator Mainsail Lodging and Development, whose Miami-born founder and president, Joe Collier, previously worked for Marriott.
■Parmco Airport Hospitality LLC, a company owned by investor-developer Darryl Parmenter and real estate economic advisor Paul Lambert that holds controlling interest in hotel designs from a now-defunct $512 million MIA development plan called Airport City.
The Miami-Dade Commission in May last year directed former Mayor Carlos Giménez’s administration to start what was to be a three-month bid solicitation, followed by a 30-day review to conclude in September and a planned contract award in November.
Former Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo led talks of building up to two new hotels as part of MIA’s 15-year, $15 billion overhaul, which the board approved in 2019.
“The class of ’20 would like to see something done,” he said at the time.
Mr. Bovo had initially backed a resolution that would have told staff to enter exclusive talks with Parmco, whose principal, Mr. Lambert, was part of the 2008 team that worked on Airport City’s hotel piece, which would have risen east of the airport’s Dolphin Garage, where the new hotel is to go now.
Using those prior designs, Mr. Bovo argued earlier, could help speed development and save money. But upon confirming that Parmco’s agreement rights with the county weren’t competitively obtained, he amended his item to call for a new request for proposals to which Parmco could still apply.
While commissioners Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Sally Heyman, Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto backed Mr. Bovo’s item, as did former commissioners Audrey Edmonson and Dennis Moss, others like Eileen Higgins warned against acting hastily.
The directive nonetheless passed 12-0 on May 19, 2020 – Joe Martinez was absent – and included a requirement that all proposals feature convention center, meeting room and trade show space.
That all makes perfect sense in a pre-Covid world, where hospitality and business dealings were predictable and dependable, Mr. Giménez said. But during the pandemic and after, as companies weigh price air travel expenses against a Zoom subscription, a return to old practices is unlikely, he said.
“There’s going to be a decrease in business travel, mark my words, as companies figure out it’s a heck of a lot less expensive to do [business remotely] than send someone to Miami,” he said. “I don’t know what a hotel should be in a post-Covid-19 world.”