The Real Deal Miami

Fontainebleau owners claim jailed official cost them convention center bid

April 15, 2013 10:00AM

From left: the Miami Convention Center and the Fontainebleau hotel

The owners of the Fontainebleau hotel claim a now-jailed city official cost them a $1 billion contract to redevelop the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Miami Herald reported.

In a newly disclosed affidavit, the owners of the famed hotel stated that the official tried to get the architect they had their sights set on, Zaha Hadid, to sign on with another team vying for the Convention Center job. Hadid is known around the world; one of her projects is the One Thousand Museum.

All bidders for the project submitted affidavits at the request of the Miami Beach Commission after the arrest of former procurement director Gus Lopez on 63 counts of public corruption, the Herald said.

Commissioner Deede Weithorn asked to review the document after hearing about the allegations that Lopez met with Hadid to join the other developer, Portman CMC; the architect eventually signed with the Fountainbleau’s owners, the paper said.

The affidavit also suggested that Hadid and Lopez met several times with ex-con Walter Garcia, who allegedly received leaked documents about the convention center project from Lopez.  The two allegedly discussed proposed consulting fees for Garcia that would have been in the millions of dollars.

“I certainly will ask our city attorney to look at this,” Weithorn told the Herald. “For the sake of something so important to the city, I’d certainly like to make sure that we’ve cleared this.” [Miami Herald] –Guelda Voien