Late on Wednesday evening, the Miami Beach commission took a leap of faith that South Beach ACE’s costlier and more ambitious $1.2 billion renovation plan for the convention center and its district would help draw more people and money to the city for several decades.
The vote was 5-2 in favor of South Beach ACE’s proposal including a complete renovation of the existing convention center to be topped with an 800-room hotel. Additionally, the project scope would include the demolition and rebuild of the 17th Street garage, 90,000 square feet of retail and a landscaped park around the center.
The project represents one of the biggest public-private partnerships undertaken in Miami-Dade County and has been characterized by many Miami Beach residents and officials as a transformative project that will shape the community for decades.
South Beach ACE, which includes Tishman Hotels of New York and Miami Beach-based Robert Wennett, beat out Portman CMC, which includes Portman Holdings out of Atlanta and Ugo Colombo’s CMC Group.
“We have long believed that a renovated convention center, adjacent hotel, and re-imagined convention center campus are critical to Miami Beach’s ability to maintain and grow its desirability as a tourism and convention destination,” said Dan Tishman, South Beach ACE Principal, in a statement. “We now look forward to working with the City and the community to bring this project to fruition.”
The city will now work to create a term sheet, with commissioners voting on a contract ideally before a November referendum. South Beach ACE won despite having a more costly project and a longer term for completion, in part because of the higher revenue it would return to the city, according to Commissioner Michael Gongora.
By choosing South Beach ACE, the commission went against the recommendation of City Manager Jimmy Morales, who chose Portman.
His recommendation was based on two factors: that Portman’s plan was about $53 million cheaper and that the group said it would finish earlier. Portman would complete the project in two years and six months compared to South Beach ACE’s four years and two months.
“I would recommend the Portman team, because of cost and timing, they achieve better results for the city,” Morales said.
That recommendation, however, did not sway the majority of the commission.
Shortly after the commission began reviewing the convention center item, Gongora made the motion to choose South Beach ACE as developer of the 52-acre district, which Commissioner Jorge Exposito seconded.
Commissioner Ed Tobin then jumped in. He made the case for Portman CMC based in part on what he characterized as South Beach ACE’s “aggressiveness” during negotiations with the city, which to Tobin meant future negotiations would be more difficult with South Beach ACE than Portman CMC. Portman would make for a better partner, he said.
Commissioner Jerry Libbin, who eventually voted for South Beach ACE, countered that negotiations can be tough because it’s a business transaction, but that the tone changes once a deal is struck.
But Tobin didn’t stray from his argument.
Source : Oscar Pedro Musibay