The readers’ forum

Miami Beach deserves world-class convention center

 

Miami Beach deserves a modernized convention center capable of attracting world-class events and the economic impact they bring.

Recognizing that competing national and regional markets are gaining ground, the city is selecting a private partner to redevelop its convention center and the surrounding site. Two finalists were chosen in 2012 and the city will identify a winner in July.

The timing is right. Miami Beach is an international destination and South Florida is an epicenter for global business. Missing from this equation is a first-class convention facility.

South Beach ACE has gathered the world’s elite architects, urban planners, landscape architects, traffic experts, and convention center designers. Our master plan has been developed under the direction of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas.

We began without preconceived notions of what Miami Beach needs and met with homeowner groups, businesses, hotels, event planners and convention users. Their input helped us design a plan for improving the convention center, creating economic impact, and activating surrounding land:

•  The community asked for more parks, so the South Beach ACE proposal adds 28 acres of recreation and green space, a 770 percent increase over the current condition.

•  Hotels along the beach pointed out a lack of connectivity with the convention center, so we aligned the center’s new entrances with streets leading to Collins Avenue.

•  Businesses voiced concerns over too much retail that would compete with existing shops and restaurants. We consolidated retail on the ground floor of the 17th Street Garage, which will funnel people to Lincoln Road.

•  Commissioners stressed the importance of a responsible financing. Our proposal includes a healthy balance of debt and equity financing, offers more fixed rent to the City over time, and includes an agreement in principal for a significant equity investment by MetLife, one of the world’s largest investment firms.

•  The convention center’s footprint is large and impermeable. We solve this by reconfiguring the exhibit halls into a north-south scheme and stacking our hotel, ballrooms, and meeting rooms atop the building. This cuts the facility’s length in half and reorients the building’s main entrance toward Lincoln.

•  Appeals for cultural programming inspired our decision to preserve and renovate the Jackie Gleason Theater and develop a new cultural building to its west.

•  Our plan alleviates road congestion and improves mobility through the addition of traffic calming measures along 17th Street and parking lots hidden beneath green space.

The South Beach ACE proposal has been endorsed by dozens of community groups, businesses, and convention users. Most telling, our competitors have adopted many of our plan elements.

This is a 100-year project and Miami Beach has one chance to get it right. Decades of experience working with communities across the country has taught us that good partners deliver great projects. South Beach ACE intends to continue that tradition in Miami Beach.

Daniel R. Tishman, principal,

South Beach ACE, New York

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