The Real Deal Miami

Miami Beach officials accuse each other of playing favorites in convention center redevelopment bid

April 05, 2012 04:30PM

Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and the Miami Beach Convention Center

In their efforts to find a developer for a revamped Miami Beach convention center, city officials are accusing one another of illegally aiding particular private developers.

The Miami Herald reported that City Manager Jorge Gonzalez pushed the city’s purchasing director to resignation because he was favoring one of the firms bidding on the convention center project even as his job requires him to get the best deal for the city. The purchasing director, Gus Lopez, allegedly resigned because he gave confidential information about the project to a developer before it could be publicized legally.

But Lopez, who denied any wrongdoing, turned the tables on Gonzalez, saying it was the city manager who played favorites during the request for proposal process. He alleges Gonzalez extended a deadline in the selection process in hopes of helping one of the competing firms.

The controversy comes as Miami Beach is seeking a private developer to redesign the convention center and 52 surrounding acres into a mostly privately-funded mixed use development surrounding an iconic new convention center. [Miami Herald]