Miami Beach City Manager: Scale Back Plan For Convention Center Project

Jul 3, 2013

The 17th Street corridor, from the 17th Street parking garage east to The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, figures largely in the Miami Beach Convention Center project.
Credit Marsha Halper / Miami Herald Staff

Two weeks before the city is set to choose a team for its $1 billion convention center project, Miami Beach’s new city manager is recommending large-scale changes that would result in higher public costs.

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales
Credit City of Miami Beach

Jimmy Morales, in a memo to a city committee released Monday, unveiled a dramatically different vision for the site: no new housing or cultural centers, a fraction of the retail space — and the city would keep control of the 17th Street Garage, possibly building hotel rooms on top of a rebuilt structure.

Without calling it so, Morales’ recommendation is essentially what the city has called a “base case” scenario: one that calls for only a revamped convention center and new hotel. While he does propose some private development, Morales’ scaled-back proposal would result in the city leasing significantly less public land to developers, meaning the city would pay more for the public portions of the overhaul. The additional public costs will be the subject of a subsequent memo, Morales said.

Funding for the project is expected to come from higher hotel taxes, county funds and bonds, plus the lease payments.