Miami Beach considers convention center makeover

2 groups compete for chance to overhaul center

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Miami Beach residents Tuesday weighed in on plans to redevelop 52 acres where its current convention center is located.

The Miami Beach Convention Center is the site of a world-famous art fair, hundreds of trade events, and shows that draw people from all over the world. By most accounts, though, the building is losing its luster.

The two groups vying for the chance to overhaul the site are Portman CMC, known for this project as "Team Portman," and South Beach ACE, known as "Team Tishman." Developers from both groups were present at Tuesday's meeting to listen to residents' concerns.

"We've given this a lot of consideration, we've talked to a lot of people. We know it's important," said Portman Vice Chairman Jack Portman.

"We bring a whole lot of experience. We can bring a really great ear to what is being said in the community," said  Dan Tishman, CEO of Tishman Construction Corporation.

The convention center overhaul would require at least 160,000 square feet of ballroom and meeting space. It would also include an 800-room hotel and outdoor exhibit space.

Some proposals to create a state-of-the art facility would require knocking down Miami Beach City Hall and integrating it into the convention center. Other proposals include razing the old Jackie Gleason Theater, now called the Fillmore.

One public speaker aside, most who weighed in said they hoped the Fillmore would be spared.

"I just want to give you advice: this is a preservationist community and an activist community," said resident George Neary

The next meeting is scheduled for February 27th.

The city commission meets June 5th to select the final proposal.

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