In the highly anticipated election on Tuesday night, Miami Beach residents approved the construction of an 800-room convention center hotel. The referendum needed a 60 percent vote in order to lease public land from the city and passed at 64 percent in its third attempt to bring a headquarter hotel to Miami. The hotel will be built on a city-owned parking lot adjacent to the newly renovated convention center.
The previous attempt in 2016 failed due to concerns over the size, originally twice as large as the current proposal, and traffic congestion. The tourism bureau estimates Miami Beach lost at least $250 million in economic revenue over the last several years because it was unable to accommodate larger scale conventions.
South Beach resident Andres Montejo, 43, said that the convention center hotel was one of the issues that drove him to the polls. Montejo, a businessman who travels frequently for work, said that the other cities he visits already have hotels connected to their convention centers.
“A convention center is great, but without a hotel it’s just another convention center,” he said after casting his ballot at Miami Beach Senior High School. “Anybody that travels … you know that’s how the game works. It’s like that all over the world.”
Other residents, annoyed with the constant flow of construction and resulting noise and traffic in the area, decided to vote against the hotel.
The hotel will connect to the convention center via a pedestrian bridge and include a 53-foot podium containing parking, meeting spaces and ballrooms as well as two 185-foot-tall wings of hotel rooms. Voters authorized the lease and the construction of an 800-room hotel with a maximum height of 185 feet, but specifics of the hotel design will be evaluated by the city’s Design Review Board at a later date.
The group behind the proposal — Turnberry’s Jackie Soffer, Terra Group’s David Martin, Miami Design District developer Craig Robins and architecture firm Arquitectonica — emphasized that the hotel would be roughly 100 feet shorter than the previous proposal and include six times more space for cars to queue on the property so that they don’t spill onto the street.
“This is the right project for our city at the right time, and Jackie, Craig and I look forward to working with the community to deliver a hotel that will make Miami Beach proud,” said developer David Martin.
On a related ballot item, residents voted to earmark the guaranteed hotel rent payments for traffic reduction measures, stormwater projects and education initiatives, rather than sending the money to the city’s general fund where it could be used for a broader range of expenses.
According to the terms of the lease agreement, the hotel will have to pay Miami Beach either fixed rent totaling $16.6 million over the first 10 years or a percentage of hotel revenue, whichever is greater. Miami Beach estimates that the city will also collect $96 million in taxes from the hotel over the next 30 years.
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