Miami Beach Convention center near revamp 'go'
By Scott E. Pacheco
Miami Beach within days should get funding go-ahead to master plan a six-year upgrade of its outmoded convention center, with work due to end July 31, 2015.
The city formally agreed late last week to release the funds, which OKs it for county reimbursement of $600,000 to hire Arquitectonica to craft the master plan. Another $400,000 is due for pre-design after county approval, said Jose A. Galan, Miami-Dade's chief of program legislation.
All the funds are from $55 million that county voters approved five years ago to revamp the center, last updated in 1989. Industry players for years have lamented outdated amenities and lack of a ballroom. When the center opened in the 1950s it was the nation's fourth-largest; today it's 28th.
Max Sklar, city director of tourism and cultural development, said once the county seals the deal, the city will have to "execute our agreement with Arquitectonica." Both sides have already approved terms.
"There's a six-month timeline for the master planning process," he said, meaning it should wrap up by early June 2010.
Miami Beach must OK the master plan, then submit it to the county to get design funds, Mr. Sklar said.
A timeline from the county shows the two-year design phase is to end June 30, 2012, and cost $4,992,607. Construction, to begin Jan. 1, 2011, is to cost $49,007,393.
A convention center study recommends expanding exhibit space, adding a ballroom and 25,000 square feet of added meeting space, an iconic alternative outdoor rooftop venue, and another convention center hotel in the Beach.
Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Chairman Aaron Perry said previously that the center's deters some major meetings: "We lose business every day to our city because of inadequate ballroom and convention center space."