Scores of voters are heading to the polls early in Miami Beach this presidential primary, where the ballot also has a question on a lease of public land of a hotel next to the Miami Beach Convention Center.
As the debate rages over whether residents should approve the deal for an 800-room, 288-foot tall hotel at the corner of 17th Street and Convention Center Drive, new renderings provided by the developer to the Miami Herald show the building in the context of its surrounding neighborhood.
About 853 Beach residents have cast ballots since early voting opened Monday, a sharp increase from the same period during last fall’s mayoral election. During those first few days in October, only 370 people voted early.
Atlanta-based Portman Holdings wants to lease 2.65 acres at the corner of 17th Street and Convention Center Drive from the city to build a hotel that will link to the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is currently under renovation.
Former Mayor Matti Bower came out against the project Wednesday, telling reporters she thought such a tall building in the middle of the island could open the door for more large-scale development.
“The minute you start putting tall hotels, tall buildings, tall anything in the middle of Miami Beach, it’s going to be a free-for-all,” she said at press conference denouncing the hotel. “It sets a precedent.”
Tuesday night, local tourism and commerce chiefs met with neighbors in the West Avenue neighborhood to present the proposal. Portman principal and architect Jack Portman told locals the height is a result of the site chosen by the city commission.
Portman said that because the city and its consultants said 800 rooms were necessary to accommodate large conventions and commissioners chose the 2.65 acre site before soliciting proposals, he had to go high to accommodate those specifications.
He said the design was developed so it wouldn’t overwhelm pedestrians on the ground level.
“It’s a way to mitigate the sense of height,” he said.
The following renderings were provided to the Herald by Portman Holdings.
Look for more coverage of the convention center hotel vote tomorrow.