A big player in downtown Miami development has solidified plans to build a major, privately financed convention center topped by a massive, 1,800-room hotel the largest in South Florida on the site of the demolished Miami Arena.
MDM Group confirmed Thursday it has a contract to purchase the old arena site from the developers of the larger Miami World Center, a long-planned mixed-use project that would take up several blocks in the Park West district west of Biscayne Boulevard downtown. Terms were not disclosed.
MDM and its architects also released a rendering and a video, posted on You Tube, of a swooping, cascading, three-legged Marriott hotel tower rising over a huge podium containing the 500,000-square-foot convention center, a 1,500-seat theater, and a 2,300-car garage partly buried under ground.
As news of the project, which had been rumored for months, trickled out this week, MDM and Miami World Center principals have declined to elaborate in detail on the massive plans cost, financing plans or timetable. No plans have been submitted to the city of Miami, where officials who have long urged development of a new downtown convention center say they have not been approached by the developers.
But MDMs architect, John Nichols, who was authorized to speak on the developers behalf, said his client intends to push forward quickly, believes its financially feasible because of high demand for hotels and meeting space in Miami, and could have the project done within four years. Nichols said the project would easily cost more than $1 billion.
Miami is such a red-hot community, and this will be a true iconic landmark on the horizon, said Nichols, of Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe, who said the firm has completed a conceptual design. This is a huge undertaking. Weve blocked it out and we know it will work.
At the same time, Miami World Center, whose ambitious plans were stalled by the real-estate crash, appears ready to move ahead with a large retail center and several residential buildings next to the contemplated convention center. The company has issued marketing materials outlining 1 million square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space.
Nichols said MDM and Miami World Center are closely coordinating planning and design to ensure the project meets the goals of the broader development, which was approved as a special zoning district by the city during the previous real-estate boom. That plan outlined a dense, pedestrian-friendly district that mixes retail, commercial and residential buildings of different scales with open spaces to ensure an urban neighborhood feel.
Nichols said MDM which separately is completing the four-block Met Miami mega-project downtown intends to raise all financing for the project privately, with no publicmoney. Marriott has agreed to manage the hotel, Nichols said, though the company would not comment Thursday.
Because the site sits within the citys Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency area, however, both the convention center and the Miami World Center projects could qualify for public money from the special taxing district possibly in the form of tax rebates to improve public infrastructure, from sewer lines to streets and sidewalks.
The convention center plan was given additional impetus by Florida East Coasts plans to build a massive train station across the street for its planned All Aboard Florida rail service, which will connect downtown Miami to Orlando. The convention center and hotel would be linked directly to the train station and the Overtown Metrorail station through sky bridges, Nichols said.