Miami Beach Convention Center to become temporary hospital during pandemic

1.4M sf convention center to be converted to 450-bed facility

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and the Miami Beach Convention Center (Credit: Google Maps)
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and the Miami Beach Convention Center (Credit: Google Maps)

The Miami Beach Convention Center is one of 17 “alternate care sites” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning to take over as part of its Covid-19 response plan.

Construction to convert the 1.4-million-square-foot convention center, which the city recently renovated, will begin immediately, with a due date of May 3, according to the federal government. The convention center, at 1901 Convention Center Drive, will be retrofitted into a 450-bed temporary hospital to care for patients. It could be completed as early as April 27.

It’s unclear if it will be used for patients infected with the virus or for patients being treated for other medical conditions. The Robins & Morton Group is the contractor, according to the Army Corps’ website.

The Army Corps has awarded contracts for care sites in New York, Michigan, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois and Tennessee since March 25, beginning with the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Javits was originally planned to accept only non-coronavirus patients, but the state received permission to take Covid-19 patients, as well.

The half billion-dollar renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center is at the center of a lawsuit filed in January by Clark Construction, the general contractor on the project. Clark alleged earlier this year that it was still owed about $90 million in unpaid work.

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The city of Miami Beach’s convention center recently housed the NFL Experience during Super Bowl LIV in February and Art Basel Miami Beach in December.

The federal government began looking into leasing large warehouses and facilities earlier this year to set up temporary treatment centers.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are more than 14,500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Florida, including more than 5,000 in Miami-Dade County, and nearly 300 deaths statewide, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Miami Beach Convention Center plans (Click to enlarge)