Seven firms line up to oversee an overhaul of the Miami Beach Convention Center
By Zachary Fagenson
Seven consulting firms have thrown their hats into the ring to oversee the long-sought overhaul of the Miami Beach Convention Center.
City commissioners may decide who gets the job within two weeks.
The hopefuls are Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc.; Convention Center Hotel Advisors — a partnership comprising Minneapolis-based Convention Sports & Leisure International, which conducted initial economic impact reports for a revamped center, and Denver-based Hospitality Real Estate Counselors; Ocoee, FL-based Conventional Wisdom Corp.; New York City-based HR & A Advisors Inc.; Duluth, GA-based Strategic Advisory Group; Chicago-based HVS Convention, Sports, & Entertainment Facilities Consulting; and Chicago-based CH Johnson Consulting Inc.
An evaluation committee is to meet July 1 and July 5, said Miami Beach Procurement Director Gus Lopez, during which members will receive presentations from bidders and pepper them with questions.
"The city manager's recommendation is scheduled to be presented to the mayor and city commissioners at the July 13th commission meeting," he wrote in an email.
The city's administration in recent weeks has cited the need for a firm to help find funds, private or public; conceptualize a plan based on the center's needs; assist the city in developing a competitive process to bring key participants into the projects; evaluate and select the participating companies; negotiate the terms, and "assist in any other duties as requested by the city."
The consultant could do anything from lead public input sessions on the size and scope of the project, which has come under fire from some homeowners associations, to negotiate with hoteliers to develop an attached headquarters hotel and contribute funds toward overhaul of the convention center.
The firm is to be paid about $100,000 for its work, City Manager Jorge Gonzalez said during an April commission meeting. Architectural firm Arquitectonica was paid more than $500,000 to develop a design for a new center based on advisory board suggestions.
Miami Beach at the moment has only $55 million for the project and Arquitectonica's plan laid out a $640 million overhaul.
The plan would expand center exhibit space from 500,000 square feet in four halls to more than 700,000 spread across six, add 1 million square feet to the center, add 81,000 square feet of previously non-existent ballroom area and plug in an onsite garage that would boost parking from 3,700 cars to more than 4,100.
Proponents of overhauling the center recently hit a wall when two bills in the state legislature that could have funded the $640 million master plan failed in committees.
The center opened in 1957 with about 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. The last major upgrade, in 1989, expanded that to 502,000.
An economic impact study cited letters from firms like Microsoft that had met at the center but said they wouldn't return unless it was upgraded.
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