The Real Deal Miami

County to reconsider convention center hotel contract

By Dan Weil | September 19, 2008 05:07PM

The Palm Beach County Convention Center is expected to go back to the drawing board in its effort to erect a hotel.

But local real estate professionals say that there’s no reason to fret — a lodging facility will eventually be built.

County commissioners have been working with Ocean Properties, Ltd. Hotels & Resorts for more than six years to build a hotel adjacent to the West Palm Beach convention center, which opened in 2004.

The $100 million plan to create a 400-room hotel with 104 condos and a parking garage was held up in May when Ocean Properties sought to adjust its contract. The hotel owner and operator asked for $10 million more and proposed cutting 60 hotel rooms and all of the condo units from the project.

County Administrator Bob Weisman recommended yesterday that county commissioners terminate the agreement with Ocean Properties, and meet Tuesday to consider the issue.

Independent commercial broker Rebel Cook said she does not know of any other convention center in the country that was built without a hotel.

“That’s ludicrous,” she said.

Time may be of the essence.

“The county already has lost millions of dollars on the convention center,” she said. “This is about eight years too late. It needs to be done yesterday.”

There is no reason to worry, said Neil Merin, chairman of NAI Merin Hunter Codman, a commercial real estate firm in West Palm Beach. “Ultimately a hotel will go there,” he said, “as they need a hotel.”