Developer behind Miami Beach headquarters hotel explains pros of project

October 30, 2018   |   South Florida Business Journal

By Billy Jean Louis

The Miami Beach Convention Center aims to host larger conventions, but to reach that goal, it needs a headquarters hotel.

On the Nov. 6 ballot, the city's voters will see the proposal for a 185-foot-tall, 800-room hotel that would connect to the convention center. It needs 60 percent approval to pass. David P. Martin, president of development firm Terra Group, would develop the hotel in a joint venture with Jackie Soffer, chairman and CEO of Turnberry.

"It's going to generate significant revenue and improve the quality of tourism on Miami Beach," Martin said.

The hotel project, at the corner of 17th Street and Convention Center Drive, would include a large, resort-style pool deck atop a 53-foot-tall pedestal. It would also have an 8,000-square-foot spa, 5,000-square-foot fitness center, and ballrooms. There would be 320 valet-only parking spaces.

Martin said he's not asking for city or county taxpayer money, as the nearly $365 million project will be privately funded. Once approved, the first year will be spent on permitting, designing and engineering. There will be two years of construction.

The hotel would allow the convention center, which recently reopened after a three-year $620 million renovation, to attract "priority one" and "priority two" conventions.Those with 1,500 rooms reserved at a hotel are considered priority one, while those with 500 to 1,499 rooms reserved are priority two.

Priority one conventions have a high economic output with a low traffic component, Martin said. Without the hotel, the convention center would attract "priority three" conventions, such as auto shows. Those conventions have high traffic counts, with low economic output for businesses, he said.

"We're honored to have the potential to be the developer of this," Martin said. "We're hopeful we can get everybody's vote."

Lincoln Road Business Improvement District Executive Director Tim Schmand endorses the hotel.

The role that a convention center plays in a community is that it attracts businesses, he said. But to attract these businesses, the center needs to have a hotel with enough capacity that would allow event planners too book the majority of their participants there, he said.

"The way that I look at it is that … the more business we do on Miami Beach, the more business there'll be in Miami," Schmand said.

In 2016, a previous headquarters project didn't move forward. It required 60 percent support to pass, but only secured 54 percent. Opponents of that project said the site was too small for the hotel, and that it would worsen traffic.