The Miami Beach City Commission burned the midnight oil at their July 17, 2013 meeting, continuing late into the night, all leading up to the moment that many feel was decades in the making— the selection of a development team for the Convention Center project; finally, after a full meeting, the Commission voted to award the project to South Beach ACE in a 5 to 2 vote, with Commissioners Tobin and Wolfson dissenting. This project, the largest and most important public development deal in the City’s nearly 100 year history, will completely redesign, and renovate the parcel of land bordered by Meridian Avenue, Dade Boulevard, Washington Avenue and 17th Street.
The bidding process, which began with submissions from a number of bidding teams, was narrowed to two teams back in December. Since then, both teams have presented to the commission and the Miami Beach community numerous times, in addition to complying with and negotiating the necessary plans, budgets, proposals and contracts for consideration. To be sure, both teams are superbly qualified to execute this project, only further complicating the Commission’s final decision. The best news for Miami Beach is not necessarily which team was chosen, but that a team has been chosen and the project can move forward. This necessary upgrade to the City’s Convention Center stands to boost the City’s economy dramatically, attracting lucrative conventions such as Microsoft, which made the decision a decade ago not to return to Miami Beach until the Center was upgraded.
For more than a decade, citizens and business people in the Miami Beach community have been calling for upgrades to the Miami Beach Convention Center. After thorough vetting from the City Attorney’s office, a number of regular and special commission meetings, Mayor Bower and the Commissioners focused their final discussion on the numbers, addressing questions regarding the budget, financing, income, retail and timeline. Ultimately, it was a motion to accept the South Beach ACE team that prompted the final vote.
Now that the Commission has voted to award the project to the South Beach ACE group, the next step in the process is a November 5th ballot referendum question to obtain public approval for the lease of public property. In the meantime, the South Beach ACE group will begin to finalize their plans and budgets, thus far in a conceptual stage, and work with the City of Miami Beach to finalize the deal and the details. South Beach ACE is led by Tishman Hotel and Realty, Miami developer Robert Wennett and acclaimed architect Rem Koolhaas. South Beach ACE is collectively responsible for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, the Miracle Mile revitalization in Coral Gables and Lincoln Road’s 1111 building.