The development group led by Jackie Soffer and David Martin would build a compact, sleek convention center hotel in Miami Beach that incorporates environmentally conscious design elements aimed to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The price tag would be between $348 million to $362 million with 65 percent financed with construction loans and the remainder through equity from the partnership.
In exchange for a 99-year ground lease, the Soffer-Martin controlled entity Miami Beach Connect is offering the city 2.5 percent of the hotel’s gross operating revenues, which would come out to roughly $2 million in the fifth year of the deal. Combined with the real estate, food and beverage and resort taxes the project would generate, Miami Beach could collect a total of $10.2 million a year.
Those were the key points Miami Beach Connect team members highlighted on Thursday during the unsealing of the partnership’s bid to build the city a hotel with 550 to 800 rooms next door to the Miami Beach Convention Center. Miami Beach Connect was the only group to submit a proposal since the city requested bids in May.
Soffer and Martin headlined a presentation before a seven-member evaluation committee and a standing-room only audience at the Wolfsonian-FIU museum in Miami Beach. The Miami Beach Connect team also includes Craig Robins’ Dacra, which is conducting urban planning; Meyer Davis Studio, which is in charge of programming the restaurant and Coastal Tishman, which will be the project’s general contractor.
“We believe we can deliver the quality project you are looking for,” Soffer told committee members. Added Martin: “We look forward to partnering with the city. We believe the time is now.”
Miami Beach Connect is proposing a hotel with an 800-key, L-shaped tower that measures 185 feet tall with a parking podium. Although a spokesperson for the group said the number of hotel rooms could be reduced if city officials and residents want it to be smaller. The project would also have a covered pedestrian bridge that connects directly to the convention center and an outdoor, elevated promenade which is designed to help mitigate flooding. Arquitectonica designed the building and its subsidiary Arquitectonica Geo is handling the landscaping.
Arquitectonica founding prinicipal Bernardo Fort-Brescia said he and his team of architects analyzed previous convention center hotel proposals and the recommendations of a blue ribbon committee to avoid incorporating elements that have been rejected before, while emphasizing elements that had received positive feedback. “We looked at how we could make the best solution possible,” he said.
Other green aspects of the design include a solar trellis on the roof of the building and street trees rooted to the groundwater that can act as living pumps. To mitigate traffic, one of the major reasons previous convention center hotel referendums have failed, the Miami Beach Connect project calls for a driveway and drop-off area that is six times bigger than previous proposals. The larger footprint would allow the hotel to accommodate a valet operation, buses, taxis and ride sharing vehicles and take them off the public right-of-way, according to Miami Beach Connect’s traffic consultant.
While Miami Beach’s $600 million renovation of the convention center is almost complete, getting a hotel off the ground has been much more difficult. In 2016, voters rejected a 288-foot, 800-room hotel proposed by Atlanta-based Portman Holdings.
The project would be built on a surface parking lot that is next door to the Miami Beach Convention Center and behind the Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater. After the evaluation committee ranks the Miami Beach Connect proposal, City Manager Jimmy Morales would then make a recommendation to the city commission in three weeks on whether to accept or reject the group’s bid.