Expanding Miami Beach Convention Center Hailed
By Scott E. Pacheco
A Miami Beach Convention Center with 50% more exhibition space would link to Lincoln Road and South Beach hotels under a vision supporters just unveiled.
The Convention Center Master Plan Steering Committee gave the plan a thumbs-up when architectural firm Arquitectonica presented it Friday.
"This building needs to have a whole new look," said Co-chair Stuart Blumberg.
In the largest change, the center would leapfrog west across Convention Center Drive to consume its own 243,000-square-foot parking lot. A new east-west road connecting the drive and Washington Avenue would front the center. A grand entrance would face south.
Exhibit space could soar from about 500,000 square feet to more than 750,000, plus an up-to-60,000-square-foot multi-use ballroom.
The northwest corner of the L-shaped center near the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens could house loading docks and second-level parking. A 1,000-room convention hotel could fit on the site’s northeast end.
The city-owned center, last expanded in 1989, now is considered third tier in luring conventions as larger centers blossom nationally. The county vows $55 million to expand the ballroom; the rest is unfunded and costs are unknown.
A subcommittee will deal with functional nuts and bolts. A programming team will look at how to make the center more competitive, working with Arquitectonica to mesh vision with marketplace reality.
The subcommittees are to meet within weeks, the steering committee in early March.
"Based on what we heard [Friday], we are going to give our first try," said Bernardo Fort-Brescia, principal with Arquitectonica, which is to have a master plan in hand by Aug. 3. Advertisement