Miami Beach city commissioners gather for their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. On the agenda: choosing a team for the billion-dollar convention center district redevelopment, a legal opinion as to the legality of a petition to change the city’s charter with regards to the convention center district, setting the city’s tax rate, debating a moratorium on the demolition of architecturally-significant homes, Watson Island development plans, and selection of a new Alton Road design.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive and is expected to last well into the evening.
Convention center vote
After a more than a year-long selection process, commissioners are scheduled to finally select a development team for the city’s ambitious convention center project. The city must choose between two teams of internationally preeminent developers and architects: South Beach ACE, which includes the builders of One World Trade Center in Manhattan and Pritzker-Prize winning architect Rem Koolhaas; and Portman-CMC, which includes the developers of Peachtree Center in Atlanta and starchitect Bjarke Ingels.
Wednesday’s winner will enter into negotiations with the city to develop Miami Beach’s convention center, add a privately-run hotel, build shops and restaurants, and possibly add apartments to a 52-acre site in the heart of South Beach. The plan, which has attracted world-wide attention, is expected to cost the public more than half a billion dollars, with funding coming from a special taxing district, and increase in the hotel bed tax, bonds and lease revenues.
This item is scheduled to be heard no earlier than 6 p.m.
Convention center petition
Miami Beach City Attorney Jose Smith has asked commissioners for permission seek a court order to determine whether a proposed charter amendment regarding the convention center district should apply to the project.
Commissioner Jonah Wolfson recently led a petition drive to make redevelopment of thee convention center area more difficult to pass by requiring approval rate from 60 percent of city voters to lease any land within the district. Now, only a simple majority is needed, and only for certain areas of the site.
Through the help of paid petition gatherers, and with financial support from the Fontainebleau hotel, Wolfson has gathered enough signatures to force the city to put the issue on a ballot in the form of a proposed change to the city charter, which is the city’s governing document.
Smith said in a lengthy legal brief that the proposed ballot language for the charter change is legal.
However, it has been unclear whether proposal should apply to the current convention center bid.
Wrote Smith: “While there is no case directly on point, it is doubtful that the proposed Charter Amendment can be applied retroactively to the Convention Center ... because it would impact vested rights and impose new duties and conditions on the proposers as well as upon the City.”
Smith has asked commissioners to give him permission to ask a court for confirmation of this. Commissioners will decide on Wednesday whether to approve Smith’s request.
Commissioners are scheduled to set the tax rate ceiling for the 2013-2014 budget year.
During his first budget season on the job, Miami Beach’s City Manager Jimmy Morales has proposed to keep the city’s general operating tax rate steady. However, the city’s debt service tax rate has decreased slightly.