Downtown Hyatt set for renovation
By Risa Polansky
Downtown Miami's Hyatt Regency is to be renovated, and possibly expanded, now that city officials have settled on preliminary plans for the future of the 5.7-acre James L. Knight Center complex.
Based on consultant Staubach Co. Northeast's recommendation, the city plans to sell its Knight Center property north of the I-95 ramp and to explore a revamp of the Hyatt facilities.
Miami subsidizes the Knight Center about $1.9 million a year, said Lori Billberry, director of public facilities.
City and Hyatt officials are to meet this month to discuss plans, she said.
At a commission meeting last month, attorney Joel Maxwell of Akerman Senterfitt, who represents the Hyatt, said possibilities include "doubling the number of hotel rooms, and maybe construction of a first-rate conference center."
Hyatt Equities representatives could not be reached.
Hotel officials "want to make it a better property, make it a centerpiece for attracting meetings and conferences to downtown Miami," said attorney Neisen Kasdin, a Hyatt co-counsel.
An invitation to bid on the 1.3 acres of north-end land is expected soon. A garage and the colorful landmark Bank of America Tower with ground-floor retail would be included under transfer of a lease arrangement.
The administration has yet to settle on an asking price for the land. "We're going to set a minimum," Ms. Billberry said.
The 4,646-seat Knight Center; 28,000-square-foot Miami Convention Center; 23,000 square feet of University of Miami conference space, auditoriums and meeting rooms; and 612-bed Hyatt Regency with 23,000 square feet of meeting area make up the rest of the complex.
The city has yet to schedule a meeting with the university, which declined to comment, to discuss plans for its part of the complex, Ms. Billberry said.