News: Convention Center Advisory Board Recommends Portman CMC

Just under a month before Miami Beach is expected to pick a team to redevelop its’ convention center, the advisory board who bears the building’s name has made a recommendation.

In a close 4-3 vote, the Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board voted to recommend Portman CMC to the administration.

The majority cited their reason rested with the separated ballroom in the Portman master plan. Chairman Stu Blumberg broke the tie, and stated that construction phasing was what swayed him. The time frame is significantly earlier than the South Beach ACE plan.

The two teams are in a tight battle for the right to redevelop the 52-acre convention center district right smack in the heart of one of the most desirable slabs of real estate. The RFQ requested a ballroom, increased space, and a headquarter hotel- both teams delivered that in their plans. As for the rest, it was up to the developer to take an holistic approach to use every stitch of land.

The MBCC Advisory Board praised both teams for their above the par vision to the district.

City Manager Jimmy Morales, who was present to receive the recommendation, joked that the city couldn’t have afforded both teams if they had gone to them directly and asked for plans, and was glad he got both for free.

The teams have invested a significant amount of resources , and brain power by some of the most renowned minds in the industry, yet they still don’t know how they will be judged.

Morales said bringing in a points system out of the blue would not be ideal, but from what the RFQ asked for, a kind of system could be devised to help the commission make a decision.

“We could create a matrix of the kinds of things that the commission set forth that it wanted to see from the teams,” said Morales.

The manager said he’d use similar criteria to make his recommendation, and a special attention the financial aspect of the project.

“At the end of the day, this needs to be a building and project we can afford,” said Morales.

Morales hinted that there might be have to be more public money inserted into the project due to the adversarial reaction to private elements in the master plans.

“Through the public vetting process of the last six months, we have seen some reaction to that level of private activity, and it is clear that there is going to have a more significant public investment that may have been originally thought a couple of years ago,” said Morales.

The City Manager said that would be all part of his recommendation to the commission whom are expected to make a choice in mid-July.

Portman CMC is expectantly happy over the recommendation. In a statement, Jack Portman, Vice Chairman of Portman Holdings, said “We are pleased and honored to be the recommended choice.”

“We are confident that this process will lead to the best outcome for the residents and visitors of Miami Beach,” said Portman.

The Herald’s Christina Veiga reported that South Beach ACE called Portman’s phasing plan, the deciding factor in the advisory board’s vote, “unrealistic.”

The MBCCAB was the first of all city boards to make their recommendations. Other boards are expected to make theirs in the next couple of weeks.

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