News: Gongora: Community Input on MBCC Will Be Very Important

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora explains two major matters that came up before last week’s Commission meeting:

The item on the agenda that elicited the most public participation was the vote on the Miami Beach Convention Center. Our convention center is the economic engine for all of Miami-Dade County. As such, to stay competitive in the national marketplace, tourism leaders have long been united in calling for an expanded facility including a large ballroom and a reasonably-sized convention center hotel.

After years of discussion, the Commission has finally succeeded in convening a selection committee to review qualifications of some of the most respected developers throughout the world.

A diverse selection committee consisting of community leaders unanimously recommended that the Commission short list it to the top two presenters:

– Portman-CMC, a collaboration between Atlanta-based Portman Holdings, Miami developer Ugo Colombo, architect Bjarke Ingels, Cirque du Soleil and the Bal Harbour Shops; and

– South Beach ACE, a team with New York’s Tishman Hotel and Realty, architect Rem Koolhaas, and 1111 Lincoln Road developer Robert Wennett.

The Greater Miami Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association urged the Commission to accept the short list and move forward with a process on creating and designing a new convention center that better services our community. The Commission voted 6-1 to accept these recommendations.

Starting in January 2013, these two groups will commence a series of community meetings to discuss what type of convention center will best service both residents’ and tourists’ needs. I hope to see many of you at these very important community meetings over the upcoming months.

Regarding the city manager, the Commission accepted our recruiter’s recommendation to commence interviews with the top four recommended candidates:

– Steve Barwick, long-time city manager of Aspen, Colo.;

– Monica Cepero, assistant to Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry and former policy coordinator for Gov. Jeb Bush;

– Robert Frank, city manager of Ocoee, a city of 36,000 residents near Orlando; and

– Thomas Wilson, assistant city manager of development services in Palm Springs, Calif.

In addition, the recruiter will look into other candidates including Emanuel Mayer, Jimmy Morales and Frank Rollason. The recruiter will report back at the Jan. 16, 2013, Commission meeting. Hence, we have extended the contract for Interim City Manager Kathie Brooks who has done a fine job in steering our city forward in a positive direction.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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