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May 7, 2013

Fontainebleau quits hotel association over Miami Beach convention center plan

The Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association lost its largest member, the Fontainebleau, over its support for Miami Beach’s plan to redevelop the city’s convention center district.

The Fontainebleau hotel has no love for Miami Beach’s billion-dollar plan to redevelop the convention center district.

So much so, the resort recently let its membership with the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association lapse. The association supports the convention center plan.

With more than 1,500 rooms, the Fontainebleau was the largest hotel member of the association.

“We chose not to renew our membership because we feel the current vision of the Association’s leadership is not aligned with ours,” resort spokesman Joseph Gerbino wrote in an email. “The Fontainebleau Miami Beach has always advocated an immediate renovation, expansion and upgrade to the Miami Beach Convention Center and we are not opposed to a hotel project, provided no public monies, taxes or subsidies are used in its development.”

Association President Wendy Kallergis did not return calls or an email for comment.

Miami Beach is in the final stages of selecting a development team to overhaul its outdated convention center, add a ballroom, and spruce up the desolate area with greenery, residential units and shopping. Plans also call for an affordable hotel, which supporters say is critical to host conventioneers.

The owners of Fontainebleau bid on the project, but lost. Since then, the hotel has gone after the plan.

The team submitted an affidavit to the city that throws dirt on one of the competitors still in the running for the project. They’ve also put their money behind a petition campaign that would make it more difficult for the project to get approval.

“To me, it’s total arrogance on their part,” said Stuart Blumberg , founder and former president of the hotel association. “If the Fontainebleau thinks they can operate without citywide conventions, they’re wrong.”

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