Miami Beach Hunts For Convention Center Developer
By Scott Blake
The City of Miami Beach wants to get serious about transforming its famed convention center and surroundings to keep up with the competition for large conventions and tradeshows — a key part of the Beach’s economy.
Officials this week requested qualifications for "master developers" to partner with the city to create a "Miami Beach Convention Center District." It would feature a bigger and better convention center, and perhaps a new entertainment venue to replace the famed Jackie Gleason/Fillmore Theater.
Also proposed for the 52 acres are restaurants, a hotel, retail and residential uses, and new parking sites. In addition to the convention center and theater, the redevelopment area includes Miami Beach City Hall and a 1,450-space garage.
"Years from now, we’ll look back and relish in knowing that we had a part in building upon our great city’s successes for future generations," Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez said in a statement. "As they say, "Miami Beach is always reinventing itself’ — in a good way."
Recent developments may make the project more feasible.
Now that mega-casino legislation has stalled in Tallahassee, a gaming component for the site — an idea some officials toyed with last year — is not in the plan. Also, planners are now looking at a total project cost of $250 million to $300 million, down from earlier estimates of more than $600 million.
City officials have scheduled a Feb. 27 meeting at the convention center where interested parties can learn more about the plan and make suggestions.
Roughly $50 million in county bond money is available for the project. The rest would come from private investment and possibly other public funds.