Miami World Expo Center gets initial OK

Igor Reyes (credit: Erik Bojnansky)
Igor Reyes (credit: Erik Bojnansky)

Miami’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved zoning code exemptions to enable the development of a massive $600 million Marriott Marquis-branded convention hotel at the 4.7-acre former Miami Arena site.

However, the 54-story Miami World Expo Center isn’t a done deal yet. The exemptions must also be approved by Miami commissioners. The project, which is being developed by the MDM Development Group and designed by Coral Gables architecture firm Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates, is on the City Commission agenda for Oct. 9.

Joseph Herndon, MDM’s director of development, said he hopes the approvals are secured within a week. The developer wants to break ground on the project by the end of 2014 and complete it by winter 2017.

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“Our objective is ambitious,” Herndon said.

Once complete, Miami World Expo Center will total more than 2.2 million square feet and include 1,800 hotel rooms, 1,200 parking spaces and 300,000 square feet of exhibition and convention space. Nichols Brosch vice president Igor Reyes said the Miami World Expo Center’s main 100,000-square-foot exhibition space will “dwarf” the 800-room Loews Miami Beach Hotel, the site of this week’s CREW-Miami convention.

MDM has a contract to buy the Miami Arena site from Miami World Center Holdings, a venture controlled by California-based CIM Group and local real estate investors Art Falcone and Nitin Motwani. The partners, collectively known as the Miami Worldcenter Group, own about nine acres of land just west of the Miami World Expo Center that will become the $1.5 billion Miami Worldcenter project.