It’s official. After two failed attempts, Miami Beach will finally get the convention headquarter hotel that local tourism officials have been angling for over the past several years.
Voters approved the project by a super majority in the 2018 General Election Nov. 6, 2018, paving the way for the critical missing piece in the destination’s meetings and conventions package.
“We are ecstatic and excited. It’s been many years, and the third time’s a charm,” said Rolando Aedo, COO of the Greater Miami CVB, who had been part of a voter outreach campaign that included the CVB, the local hotel workers union, the hotel developer, city officials and the Miami Chamber of Commerce.
Aedo said between the newly reimagined $620 million Miami Beach Convention Center and the future 800-room hotel that will stand next to it, the vision for the convention center district is nearly complete, which now allows the CVB to be more competitive in securing meetings and conventions business, particularly focusing on the associations, pharmaceutical, tech, legal, financial and insurance markets.
“It’s estimated we’ve lost roughly $130 million in convention business over the past few years because of not having a headquarter hotel,” he said. “As of today, our phones are ringing off the hook.
“There’s been this pent-up demand for Miami Beach, and we have a pretty robust list of conventions that but for a headquarter hotel would have come,” he added. “Now, of course, we’re saying, ‘Hey, great news. It’s in the pipeline, and we’re looking at it coming online in about 2021.’”
Aedo said the reason the Miami Beach convention headquarter hotel passed in this year’s election was due to its radically different design compared to previous iterations, particularly when it comes to aesthetics, sustainability components and built-in traffic mitigation elements.
Its all-local dream team of architects and developers also helped push the project forward.
Miami Beach Convention Headquarter Hotel Project Details
The overall concept, spearheaded by Miami firm Arquitectonica and Miami developer MB Connect—encompassing Turnberry’s Jackie Soffer, Terra Group’s David Martin and Craig Robins—incorporates the same number of hotel rooms as the 2016 proposed hotel project with 100 less feet of height in a 17-story structure.
Meanwhile, the pedestal of the project, which is about five stories, will feature parking, meeting space, restaurants, a pool deck and three levels of retail.
Unlike the last proposal, two hotel towers will be set back from the corner of the street.
“Because of the sense of scale and how it engages with the pedestrians, it’s going to be a dramatically different experience,” Aedo said.
Sustainability-wise, the headquarter hotel is aiming to set the standard for future hotel, residential and other developments in Miami, according to Aedo, who said a hydrologist was part of the RFP during the presentations.
“It’s everything from how the water is being recycled to how they’re using green space for better water filtration, which within the city of Miami Beach is critically important because of the irrigation and the storm water,” he said, adding that solar panels are another highlight of the design of the hotel.
Traffic concerns were another major priority for the project, and the developers utilized a renowned traffic engineer to design a system that internally circulates traffic within a pedestal of the building.
A large part of the revenue from the convention hotel rent and tourist taxes are earmarked to mitigate traffic throughout the city, in addition to storm water measures and education.
“Ironically, when it comes to traffic, our new business model with the complete package of a world-class convention center and the future hotel is to attract more out-of-town conventions that bring 3,000 to 4,000 delegates who don’t bring their cars,” Aedo said.
“They will come to the headquarter hotel and hotels immediately surrounding the convention center and for the most part they’re going to walk and enjoy the district,” he added.
Additional Miami Beach Convention District Highlights
The centerpiece of the district is the newly transformed Miami Beach Convention Center, which features a new 60,000-square-foot-grand-ballroom, 500,000 square feet of exhibit space and 84 breakout rooms.
[Related Content: Newly Reborn Miami Beach Convention Center Creates a Sense of Place]
Aedo pointed out that a new six-acre public park and green space for outdoor events next to the convention center will be finished next year.
“With the new projects and all of the existing amenities—cultural, restaurants, nightlife and of course, the beach two blocks from the convention center—it’s an amazing district that will arguably be the most compelling package for meeting planners bar none.”
Aedo pointed to highlights of the district such as a botanical garden, a beautiful Holocaust memorial, a new contemporary art museum, Lincoln Road’s restaurants, shops and galleries, and the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, which is home to the New World Symphony.
On one side of the New World Center building is an inviting park and an HD screen where live performances of the symphony are simulcast, in addition to movies throughout the week.
Miami Beach Eyes Another New Development
Meanwhile, Aedo said the CVB is equally excited about another development on the drawing board about three miles from the convention center district.
The Miami World Center project would bring another smaller convention center to downtown Miami, along with 1,700 hotel rooms that would give the CVB even more leverage with larger citywide groups.
“With the vote on the convention headquarter hotel and everything on the drawing boards, we feel strongly that we will be looked at as seriously as a meetings and conventions destination as we are as a leisure vacation destination,” Aedo said, adding that meetings currently represent 15 percent of the tourism mix.
“We will now get a larger proportionate share of meetings and conventions not just domestically but especially internationally since we are served by more airlines than any other city," he added.
“We’re very optimistic about what the future will bring."