Miami Beach

Beach approves handbill ban, new lifeguard stands; firms advance in convention center deal

The design for the exterior of the Miami Beach Convention Center that was presented to the City Commission last month.
The design for the exterior of the Miami Beach Convention Center that was presented to the City Commission last month. Fentress Architects/Arquitectonica/City of Miami Beach

A ban on commercial solicitation in some of South Beach’s busiest areas and a stronger ordinance prevent sitting commissioners from applying for city jobs were among a bevy of topics discussed at Wednesday’s Miami Beach City Commission meeting.

After months of consideration, commissioners gave final approval to a ban that prevents businesses from hawking menus, products and handbills in South Beach.

In proposing the ban, the administration has cited littering and protecting residents and tourists from being bothered by businesses.

The ban covers:

▪ The Lincoln Road area, bound by 17th Street to the north, Lincoln Lane to the south, Alton Road to the west and Washington Avenue to east.

▪ Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15th streets.

▪ Collins Avenue from Fifth to 15th streets.

▪ Washington Avenue from Fifth Street to Lincoln Road.

▪ All cross streets and bystreets bounded by 15th Street to the north, Ocean Drive to the east, Fifth Street to the south and Washington Avenue to the west.

▪ Española Way, from Collins Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue.

▪ Lummus Park.

Strengthened ordinance on commissioners applying for city jobs

Commissioner Micky Steinberg proposed requiring any sitting commissioner to resign before applying for a city job.

The commission gave initial approval to changing an ordinance that allows the City Commission to grant a waiver to a commissioner who wants to apply for a job with the city.

Recently, Commissioner Ed Tobin asked for and got a waiver from his colleagues to apply to be a entry-level cop with the Miami Beach Police Department. As a sitting commissioner, his application with the department is pending.

Steinberg pitched the change as a way to further insulate the process from any appearance of impropriety should an elected official decide to apply for a city job.

“At that point, if they get the waiver, then they have to resign,” she said.

Tobin recused himself from the vote.

Three construction firms shortlisted for Miami Beach Convention Center

Three construction firms have advanced to the second round of the selection process for the long-awaited renovation of the convention center.

As recommended by City Manager Jimmy Morales, three firms ranked by an evaluation committee made up of city staff and local business people during the next few months propose a maximum price and possible cheaper alternatives to the rest of the $500 million plan to update the convention center.

The three companies are:

▪ Clark Construction Group, LLC: Based out of Bethesda, Md., Clark Construction has completed 15 convention center projects. The $4.7 billion worth of work includes the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.; the Music City Convention Center in Nashville; and the Boston Convention and Exhibit Center in Boston.

▪ Hunt Construction Group, LLC: This Miami firm has done 20 convention centers and hotel convention center projects totaling more than $5 billion. A few of their highlights include the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Expansion in Orlando and the Phoenix Convention Center Expansion in Phoenix.

▪ Hensel Phelps Construction Co.: Hollywood-based Hensel Phelps has worked on six convention center and hotel convention center projects before, totaling $1.5 billion of work. Their projects include the expansion and renovation of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver; the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and Convention Center in San Diego; and the Hilton Baltimore Hotel and Convention Center in Baltimore.

Miami Beach Community Church issue

The Miami Beach Community Church and developer Tristar Capital plan to appeal a recent ruling by a Miami Beach hearing officer to order a rehearing of the plan before the city’s Historic Preservation Board. The city had the option to join the appeal, which will now go to an appellate court, but a majority of the commission chose not to.

City Attorney Raul Aguila recommended joining the appeal on the basis that the hearing officer, Special Master Warren Bittner, criticized the board and a city attorney’s handling of a previous hearing where the project was approved.

In a 5-2 vote with Commissioners Deede Weithorn and Joy Malakoff dissenting, the commission decided to respond to the court with brief stating Aguila’s position, but not to formally be a co-petitioner with the church.

Other business

▪ Lifeguard stands: The city will replace six lifeguard stands on Miami Beach that are in bad shape, and some more will be refurbished, potentially with the work of a local artist, in time for the city’s centennial celebration in the spring.

▪ Arthur Godfrey Road: An item on the removal of Arthur Godfrey’s name from 41st Street was pulled from Wednesday’s agenda. The removal was recently approved by a city committee, but it was not discussed at the full commission meeting. Weithorn proposed prohibiting co-naming of some of the Beach’s major thoroughfares, including 5th Street, 71st Street, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, Alton Road and Ocean Drive. The commission passed the ordinance unanimously.

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