Miami Beach

Firm bidding to build Miami Beach Convention Center hotel is disqualified

A rendering of initial designs of the facade of the Miami Beach Convention Center.
A rendering of initial designs of the facade of the Miami Beach Convention Center. CITY OF MIAMI BEACH/FENTRESS ARCHITECTS/ARQUITECTONICA/WEST 8

One of two developers bidding to build the Miami Beach Convention Center headquarter hotel has been disqualified from the process.

In a letter sent Tuesday, the city notified Chicago-based Oxford Capital Group that its bid was disqualified because the proposal called for using public money and it did not include financial details on rent to be paid to the city. Oxford had teamed with Phoenix-based RLB Swerdling for the bid.

As outlined in the bid solicitation, the city does not want to spend taxpayer dollars on building the hotel. The developer would lease the land for the hotel.

“The role of the public sector in the hotel project will be limited to the leasing of the hotel site at a market rate,” the request for proposals reads. “The City shall not provide, nor should Proposers rely on, any public funding or public financing for the hotel project.”

According to the April 21 letter signed by City Manager Jimmy Morales, Oxford proposed the city subsidize $16 million to $33 million of the project and did not propose a schedule for fixed rent payments.

“The failure to include basic financial terms such as rent and schedule of minimum fixed rent is a substantial and material irregularity impacting the responsiveness of Oxford’s proposal,” Morales wrote, adding that allowing Oxford to continue would destroy the competitive nature of the solicitation process.

With Oxford out, one firm remains to develop the hotel. That firm is Atlanta-based Portman Holdings — one of the firms that bid in 2013 to undertake a previously proposed billion-dollar, larger-scale redevelopment of the convention center and its surrounding neighborhood.

Once again, the city has only one company vying for a large project in its convention-center district. Clark Construction Group, based in Bethesda, Md., is the only firm bidding to be the city’s contractor for the $500-million renovation for the convention center, a massive project that attracted star architects in the last go-around. The city, however, changed direction during the process and called for a smaller project after new commissioners were elected, tossing out all the previous work.

Last week, commissioners authorized city staff to open Clark’s sealed bid and determine whether it will recommend the firm for the contract at a commission meeting on April 29.

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