Miami Beach Convention Center: ACE and Rem Koolhaas Picked For Redevelopment

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via ACE
After months of heated arguing, slick production pitches and a last minute curveball from the city manager, Miami Beach has finally chosen a team to redevelop its convention center and spearhead SoBe's biggest project in decades. The winner is ACE, the team fronted by Prinzker Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas.

The ACE team will start hammering out details with the city on the $600 million, 52-acre behemoth of a plan to add retail, a hotel and green space while also overhauling the convention center itself.

ACE was chosen despite a lengthy pitch at last night's meeting by Commissioner Ed Tobin for its competition, Portman CMC, fronted by Danish architect Bjarke Ingals. Tobin got City Manager Jimmy Morales to agree that he felt Portman's plan would be cheaper for taxpayers and easier to pull off.

But in the end, only Tobin and Commissioner Jonah Wolfson voted for Portman with the rest of the commission backing ACE's plan.

The vote ended a long and tortured process that included the downfall of previous City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and the arrest of Gus Lopez, the city procurement director, on corruption charges.

There was also a drawn-out fight over the fate of the Fillmore, as Portman initially proposed to raze the Jackie Gleason Theater before changing its plans.

As a final monkey wrench in the process, Morales recommended two weeks ago that both teams scale down their projects and consider removing residential properties from the site.

Those details still have to be hammered out, but even if residential is axed from ACE's vision, it's still going to transform the center of South Beach -- not to mention costing as much as the hated Marlins Stadium project. The price tag will be picked up by a combination of county bonds and hotel taxes.

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The commission made the right decision. ACE was far more sympathetic to the community's needs from the beginning. Wolfson was always in the pocket of Portman. 

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Based on a Herald article a few days ago this project has the potential to be the  biggest failure in Miami Beach history.  This project relies on the widely viewed premise that the city doesn't need more visitors it just needs higher expenditures for  future guests.  I think the doctors and dentist conventions will pass on Miami Beach due to its history of crime, prostitution, and corruption.  I think professional groups will not want to be associated with coming to Miami Beach.   Many online reviews already cast a negative stoplight on the Miami tourist industry on giant grift.   Once the revenue numbers fail to meet projected numbers the operators will try to renegotiate contracts for the convention, hotel, parking, and retail.  I'll give the center 3 to 5 years before the revenue fail to meet expectations. For $300 a night I'll take Aspen over Miami.  Sure the escorts and hookers are limited, but at least my wife will sleep well knowing I'm in Aspen rather than Miami Beach. 

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