High profile architects BIG (Bjarke Ingels) and OMA (Rem Koolhaas) are in a close battle to win the redevelopment competition for the design of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Recently put on hold by a corruption probe and procedural concerns, Miami Beach’s ambitious plans to create a 52-acre convention center district are again progressing toward a crucial vote by elected officials. The committee’s recommendations will be reviewed by interim City Manager Kathie Brooks, who will issue her own recommendation to city commissioners. Commissioners could vote on the project and development teams Dec. 12. More information after the break.
On Tuesday, a city committee tasked with reviewing credentials of interested development teams met and identified frontrunners — again — to renovate the convention center, build an 800-room hotel and lease and develop surrounding public land. The committee met previously this summer, but reconvened after city legal staff worried that the first meeting might not have complied with Florida’s Sunshine Law. Best positioned by the committee to begin master planning and negotiating land leases: teams led by Portman Holdings and Ugo Colombo’s CMC Group, and Tishman and developer Robert Wennett’s UIA.
Miami Beach’s 52-acre redevelopment plan emerged almost a year ago out of hopes that partnering with private investors and developers would help fund a convention center expansion and renovation that city leaders and business boosters have pushed for years without success. The building, which once filled hotels and restaurants with conventioneers from out of town, has over time attracted fewer major conventions and become more of an attraction for local trade shows.
But before the city could even close the window for teams to submit their qualifications, Miami Beach’s then-city manager fired the city’s then-purchasing director and asked for an investigation into whether the former official was leaking protected information about the project and trying to form his own development team.
The former purchasing director, Gus Lopez, was charged last month with bid rigging and racketeering on charges unrelated to the convention center bids. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors have said an investigation involving Lopez and the convention center remains ongoing. City commissioners, however, agreed to push the project toward a vote last month after prosecutors said in an email that their investigation has yielded no evidence that convention center bids were tainted “at this time.”
“The decision was pretty clear: let’s move forward,” Brooks said. “We’ve heard nothing differently at this time.”
Courtesy of The Miami Herald