trade center planned for Miami's Dupont Plaza
travel and trade center is planned for a renovated Ramada Dupont Plaza Hotel that
could centralize foreign consulates, binational chambers of commerce and trade
shows in downtown Miami, new owners said.
Hotels & Resorts, which bought the building about two months ago, plans to spend
about $65 million remaking the 750,000-square-foot complex, officials said. The
site has offices, hotel rooms and apartments.
property will retain a hotel component and convert apartments into corporate suites,
Lionstone officials said. Because negotiations with hotel chains are under way,
owners would not disclose details on the 297-room hotel portion.
based in Miami Beach, owns, leases and manages hotels in Florida, including the
Ritz-Carlton South Beach, due to open late this year, and hotels in Aruba and
of the 160,000 square feet of offices, now 75% vacant, will become the Travel
& Trade Center of the Americas and is planned to open by May 2002, said Martin
Elortegui, the center's director of operations.
is an ambitious project," said Antonio Jose Hernandez-Borgo, Venezuelan consul
general. "It is viable. It could become a point of reference and would bring
many people together."
Elortegui said $8 million would be spent on four floors of the 11-story building,
300 Biscayne Blvd., to create a hub for tourism and trade industries. About 20,000
square feet will be assigned to manufacturers and another area will have kiosks
for travel-related interests to rent, he said.
"It will increase the pedestrian traffic," Mr. Elortegui said, "giving
access to products of different countries to a larger number of people."
Valls, president of Meetings Events & Conference Coordinators in Coral Gables,
said while Miami has convention centers, it lacks "a large amount of conference
rooms compared to cities like Chicago, New York and New Orleans."
do hold a lot of international meetings here," said Ms. Valls, also president
of the South Florida chapter of Meeting Professionals International. "The
Dupont Plaza has more of an international flare."
Lowenstein, Lionstone president, said the firm had presented the idea at conferences
in the Caribbean and Latin America and the response had encouraged him to move
Riedi, executive vice president of the Association of Bi-National Chambers of
Commerce in South Florida, said he was not aware of the project until informed
by a reporter but he would discuss it with his group.
"It sounds like a great idea," he said. "Any step taken to consolidate
international contacts in Miami and to advance international trade is welcome.
There are binational chambers opening here constantly and it is our goal to help
in the international community approved but wanted more information.
that promotes trade, tourism and culture is welcome," said Gabriel Pascual,
president of the Central America-US Chamber of Commerce in Coral Gables. "But
I would study it in detail to make sure it doesn't duplicate efforts. There are
some consulates and trade organizations already holding trade exhibitions and
working" to reach a larger audience.
Singh, consul general of Trinidad and Tobago, said it was practical to connect
the center to a hotel.
is a very refreshing idea," he said. "But it is important that the fees
to use the facilities are right. Prices need to be affordable. That is critical
for us to carry out diplomatic missions."