Miami Beach forges ahead with risky convention center plan

The City of Miami has issued a request for proposals for a new convention center and millions more square feet of development on 52-acres of Miami Beach land, including the site of the current convention center.

In an in-depth profile of the city’s plans, the Miami Herald revealed that Miami wants to capitalize on its booming tourism industry by building a gleaming convention center on land that can support up to 6 million square feet of development.

The current proposal would allow for demolishing every structure currently sitting on the land, including the convention center, City Hall and the old Jackie Gleason Center, and folding those entities into a new complex with at least 800 hotel rooms, a 60,000-square-foot ballroom, a rebuilt convention center, and condos, office space, restaurants and parks.

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“It’s hugely attractive. You’d be hard-pressed to find another parcel that big in that kind of economic area anywhere,” said Wayne Schuchts, senior vice president of the Miami-based Flagler Real Estate Services. “This is a big, big opportunity.”

But the Herald also noted the inherent risks of the proposal. The city and a developer could spend millions in planning only to be rejected by a notoriously conservative beaurocratic process. Voters have already proven unwilling to finance a new, Arquitectonica center on their own, and for private developers to turn a profit on the project they’d likely need to include elements, such as high rise condos, that voters oppose. [Miami Herald]