Miami hires consultant to help sell Knight Center
By Deserae del Campo
The fate of Miami's money-losing James L. Knight Center rests with a consultant. City commissioners voted unanimously last week to hire Staubach Company Northeast to help with a possible sale.
The 5.7-acre city-owned hub, managed by Global Spectrum, encompasses Miami's Convention Center, the Hyatt Hotel, the University of Miami Conference Center at 400 NE Second Ave. and a parking garage at 100 SE Second St.
The Hyatt operates a ballroom and meeting space. The university has 23,000 square feet of conference space, 444-seat and 117-seat auditoriums and 14 meeting rooms. The Knight Center seats up to 4,646 for entertainment and meeting sessions, and the Miami Convention Center contains 28,000 square feet of meeting or banquet space.
City documents say "the consultant will assist the city in developing a strategy for the successful disposal of the property, as a whole or in separate parcels, and will advise and represent the city in negotiating transactions deemed by the city to be the most advantageous and in its best interest."
"We don't know what possible sale might exist," said Lori Billberry, the city's director of public facilities. "It might be that the University of Miami gets bought out or we sell it."
City Manager Joe Arriola decided in March 2005 to sell and began talks with potential buyers that he said continue.
That, Ms. Billberry said, resulted in the city seeking help in January. Staubach was the top-ranked firm, followed by Cushman & Wakefield. If negotiations fail with Staubach, Mr. Arriola could shift to Cushman & Wakefield.
Miami, Ms. Billberry said, is subsidizing the Knight Center with about $1.9 million a year. The center had $6.9 million revenue in 2004, including ticket revenues, leasing of retail and office space and parking receipts, she said, but also had a $5.9 million debt payment.