Miami Beach

Art Basel might commit to Miami Beach for 10 years — if it gets a $2.8M elevator

"End White Supremacy," 2008, by artist Sam Durant, on display during Art Basel at the Miami Beach Convention Center on in November of last year.
"End White Supremacy," 2008, by artist Sam Durant, on display during Art Basel at the Miami Beach Convention Center on in November of last year.

Art Basel Miami Beach might make a 10-year commitment to the Miami Beach Convention Center, but the city must first make a $2.8 million addition to the massive expansion of the center.

Basel organizers want an elevator and escalator that were not in the original plans. They would connect the ground floor exhibit halls to the second floor ballroom. In exchange, the renowned art fair would commit to the center for 10 years.

“Right now, we’re on a one-year commitment with Art Basel,” said Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán during a discussion with fellow commissioners this week. “So to be able to get a 10-year commitment is a pretty big deal.”

Commissioners agreed to pay Fentress Architects $124,240 to design and plan the additional work. Fentress worked with the city to create partial designs for the full convention center redo that were used in the bidding process in 2014.

Maria Hernandez, project director for the convention center district, said the additional work will cost $2.8 million. The additional construction money would come from convention development tax dollars, which are specifically earmarked for convention center projects. The additions would not delay completion, city officials said.

City Manager Jimmy Morales said his administration will now negotiate the details of the long-term deal with Basel.

“I recommend it to you because I do know the impact they have, and to have that longterm anchor would be very, very good,” Morales told commissioners.

A deal needs commission approval by the end of July to keep the project on track, according to a staff memo.

“It is important to note that in order to avoid delays to the project and additional cost beyond the estimated budget, the deadline to receive an approval to proceed with construction can be no later than the July 26 Commission meeting,” reads the memo.

Art Basel Miami Beach is considered the marquee event each year for the convention center, which is currently in the middle of a $600 million renovation and expansion. The project is 39 days behind schedule, which will affect some portions of the World OutGames, scheduled for the convention center in late May. Two of the four halls are supposed to be completed by then, with the other two useable in time for Art Basel in December.

City officials say that despite the delay, all four halls will be available for Art Basel in December, although finishing work will not be completed until 2018.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech