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Miami Beach revokes $1B convention center project

Incoming Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine calls off redevelopment of the Miami Beach convention center district in hopes of a more timely completed renovation project. Commissioners unanimously voted on Jan. 15 to terminate negotiations with the development team.

“For the purposes of getting this project done fast, on time, on budget, it’s unfortunate that we’ll have to make a very tough, challenging decision,” said Mayor Levine. “To some people, it’s a little disheartening. To other people, it’s a very fresh start.”

Resulting primarily from a November 2013 election, a decision change was made due to one commissioner’s campaign against the project and a mostly new City Commission. Voters did not agree with the former administration’s project plans, which took two years to award the bid to master development team South Beach ACE (SBACE).

South Beach ACE's former master plan for the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center site.
South Beach ACE’s former master plan for the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center site.

Previously proposed by SBACE, the $1.2 billion redevelopment of the convention district would have included renovation of the convention space and the addition of 800 hotel rooms, 120,000 square feet of retail and a parking garage. Instead, the new proposal will simply renovate the convention center and scout possible locations for development of a nearby hotel.

This decision will release the city of the burden of a 60 percent voter approval of the proposed leases, which, in part, would have paid for the center’s renovation. The SBACE plan needed voter approval because it required the team to lease city-owned land.

Separating the public and private uses of the land would expedite the project, according to officials.

“It also eliminates any risk that a referendum on the hotel and retail components would delay or terminate the Convention Center renovation,” added Mayor Levine.

Mayor Levine wrote that the city has several sources of funding it could tap to fund the convention center renovation, which he estimated to cost less than $500 million.

See related article:
Voters calling the shots in Miami Beach Convention Center renovation

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