Miami-Dade County

Subsidy agreement for Downtown Miami expo center back on the table

A rendering of the Marriott Marquis Miami Worldcenter Hotel & Expo proposed by MDM Development Group on the site of the old Miami Arena.
A rendering of the Marriott Marquis Miami Worldcenter Hotel & Expo proposed by MDM Development Group on the site of the old Miami Arena. Courtesy Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates

The first attempt didn’t go so well. But the developer planning a 1,700-room convention center hotel in downtown Miami will take a second shot Monday at scoring up to $115 million in future subsidies.

MDM Development Group is asking Miami commissioners to return 65 percent of the estimated $6 million property tax bill it would pay on a $750 million convention center and Marriott hotel planned on the former site of the Miami Arena. The company is offering job, wage, contracting and vendor commitments in return, and says the public assistance is vital if it’s going to build the 600,000 square-foot meeting facility and massive on-site hotel — facilities business boosters argue are critical to driving up Miami’s hotel and retail business.

Monday’s appearance before commissioners, who sit as the board of the Southeast Overtown Park West Redevelopment Agency, will be the developer’s second in two months. In March, commissioners rejected the developer’s proposal, saying MDM wanted too much and was offering too little in return. The meeting ended with commissioners directing the agency’s executive director, Clarence Woods III, to negotiate a stiffer agreement, and MDM attorney Javier Fernandez questioning whether the two sides were too far apart.

$750 million Estimated cost of the convention center and hotel planned on the former site of the Miami Arena

Fernandez now believes they’ve bridged the gap. They wrote into the agreement an additional $1 million in penalties should MDM fall short on hiring goals, he said, and agreed to pay the CRA $100,000 a year for three years to help identify local and minority vendors for the expo center. The developer also signed agreements to help find local vendors through the NAACP and Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce.

A demand from some commissioners that MDM cut the redevelopment agency into the project as a 5 percent partner didn’t make its way into the agreement. Instead, Fernandez said the developer agreed to pay another $100,000 a year through the life of the agreement into a culinary institute run by the redevelopment agency.

“That’s $2.5 million gross through the life of the agreement we’ll commit to the life of the facility,” Fernandez said.

Without subsidies to help finance the facility, MDM executives have said they would build a smaller project that would have less impact. They are also trying to work with Miami-Dade County to extend the life of the tax-funded redevelopment agency until 2042, and renegotiate the so-called “Global Agreement” that lays out which local governments get percentages of the property taxes paid on the old Miami Arena site.

Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Lyric Theater, 819 NW Second Ave.

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