Voters approve Miami Beach Convention Center hotel

November 6, 2018   |   South Florida Business Journal

By Billy Jean Louis

The second try was the charm in the Miami Beach Convention Center's quest to secure a hotel.

With 92 percent of votes in, 64 percent of Miami voters OK'd on Tuesday a proposed lease agreement with the developers behind the newest plan for a convention headquarters hotel. The hotel needed 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Voters approved a 185-foot-tall, 800-room hotel that will connect to the convention center. David P. Martin, president of development firm Terra Group, will develop the hotel in a joint venture with Jackie Soffer, chairman and CEO of Turnberry.

“This campaign has always been about one thing: creating a more livable, sustainable Miami Beach," Martin said. "Miami Beach residents have embraced our vision for completing the Convention Center District with a privately-financed hotel that will spur economic growth, attract world-class events, strengthen infrastructure with an eye toward resiliency, and improve quality of life by reducing traffic and funding education."

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

The first year will be spent on permitting, designing and engineering, followed by 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, industry experts said.

Voters faced a previous hotel measure by another developer in 2016. 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.

"It's important to have a convention hotel," President & CEO of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association Wendy Kallergis said, adding that there's a significant list of conventions that won't book without a convention hotel.