Miami Beach wanted a new vision for convention center hotel. Only one group made a bid.

June 15, 2018   |   Miami Herald

By Rene Rodriguez

After years of failed attempts, a Miami Beach Convention Center hotel is edging closer to reality with a proposal submitted by two South Florida real estate heavyweights.

David Martin, president of Terra Group, and Jackie Soffer, chairman and chief executive of Turnberry, have joined forces and filed a proposal under the entity name Miami Beach Connect. The bid is sealed. Under the terms of the Request for Proposal, the hotel would be located on a parking lot adjacent to the convention center.

The proposal filed by Martin and Soffer would not be associated with their respective companies.

Theirs was the sole response to an RFP issued in May by the Miami Beach City Commission. The proposal must address development, financing, design, construction and operation of a full-service convention hotel.

Under the parameters of the RFP, the hotel would be financed entirely by the developer. Other requirements include an enclosed overhead pedestrian walkway that would connect the hotel to the convention center. It must have between 550 and 800 rooms and be no taller than 185 feet.

"The completed Convention Center District will create a gathering place, fuel a key economic engine, deliver reliable long-term revenue to the City, and provide a vital connection point for several Miami Beach neighborhoods," Miami Beach Connect said in a response to the Herald. "It will also ensure Miami Beach remains competitive in attracting the world’s most important events and the economic impact and community benefits they bring."

Martin and Soffer declined to comment.

According to the proposal, Miami's Arquitectonica would oversee the hotel's architecture and design. Dacra Development — run by Miami Design District developer Craig Robins, who is married to Soffer — would handle the urban planning. New York-based Rockwell Group would oversee the interior design, and Raleigh, N.C.'s Kimley-Horn would manage the traffic and mobility engineering. Miami's Coastal Tishman would serve as the general contractor on the project.

The proposal also guarantees that The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater would be preserved and untouched by construction of the new hotel.

The RFP was issued May 16 with a June 14 deadline for submissions. The details of the submitted bid will be revealed during a presentation to an Evaluation Committee at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, June 21, at the Wolfsonian-FIU museum on Washington Avenue. The committee will ensure the proposal meets the requirements of the RFP and make its recommendation to Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales.

If approved, the proposal could go before voters in November.

Roots in South Florida
Terra Group, which was founded in 2001, has developed more than $4 billion in real estate projects, including the twin Metropolis condo towers near the Dadeland South Metrorail station, the Doral Commons shopping center at Northwest 107th Avenue and 74th Street, and the 20-story luxury Grove at Grand Bay residences at 2669 S. Bayshore Drive. Terra's assets include a mortgage bank, a construction management company and a realty firm.

Turnberry owns and operates hotels including the Fontainebleau Miami Beach and JW Turnberry Marriott Miami and recently completed the first phase of a $214 million expansion of Aventura Mall. The company is a partner in the ongoing development of a 184-acre site in North Miami, called SoLē Mia, that will include more than one million square feet of retail, 4,000 residences and 37 acres of parks.

Previous attempts to build a hotel next to the Miami Beach Convention Center have failed over concerns about traffic congestion and the sheer size of the proposed structures. In 2016, voters nixed a proposal by an Atlanta-based developer for a $400 million, 800-room hotel with a height of 288 feet.

Proponents of the hotel argue Miami Beach needs one to remain competitive and attract citywide conventions. A $600 million renovation of the 61-year-old convention center is nearing completion and is expected to be done in time for this year's Art Basel Miami Beach, which will be held Dec. 6-9.