July 25, 2018 | South Florida Business Journal
By Brian Bandell
Miami Beach voters will decide whether to approval a deal on a hotel at the Miami Beach Convention Center for the second time in two years, but the current proposal has significant differences that city officials hope will pass muster with its citizens.
On Wednesday, the city commission unanimously approved putting the lease deal with Miami Beach Connect, led by Jackie Soffer of Turnberry Associates and David P. Martin of Terra, on the Nov. 6 ballot. It will need 60 percent approval to pass.
In March 2016, a proposal by Portman Holdings for a 300-foot-tall, 800-room hotel at the convention center fell short, with 54 percent of voters in favor.
Miami Beach Connect’s hotel would be much shorter, at 185 feet tall, and the highest part of the building would be set back further from the street. It would still have 800 rooms.
City tourism officials say that a large hotel is key to attracting larger events to the convention center, which is currently undergoing a major renovation.
“Miami Beach has been awaiting the development of a convention hotel on this site for years, and our Miami Beach Connect team is ready to fulfill that long-held vision,” Soffer and Martin said in a statement. "Our hotel will integrate world-class design and advanced resiliency measures, and will connect the newly reimagined Miami Beach Convention Center to surrounding commercial areas, cultural venues and public spaces. The result will be an urban district that improves quality of life for Miami Beach residents, creates significant economic impact, unlocks reliable long-term revenue for the city, and maximizes the investment in the convention center."
The proposed lease deal was a response to the city’s request for proposals to lease the 2.5-acre site at the corner of 17th Street and Convention Center Drive. Miami Beach Connect was the only respondent.
There would be a large, resort-style pool deck atop a 53-foot-tall pedestal. The hotel would also have an 8,000-square-foot spa, 5,000-square-foot fitness center, and ballrooms. It would have 320 valet-only parking spaces.
Arquitectonica designed the project, which the city requires to achieve Gold-level LEED certification for environmental sustainability.
The hotel would cost $348 million to $362 million to develop, according to Miami Beach Connect.
Miami Beach Connect pledged to fully fund the project without public dollars. The developer agreed to pay the city 2.5 percent of gross revenue from all components except food and beverage service, which would pay 1.25 percent. The payment would be about $2.6 million by the fifth year of the deal. Miami Beach Connect agreed to make it a union hotel.