MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Richard Branson has big plans for Virgin Voyages in Miami.
The London-born founder of Virgin announced Wednesday that he wants to build a new terminal at PortMiami to house his fleet of cruise ships.
Virgin Voyages teamed with Miami-based architecture and design firm Arquitectonica to create the look of the proposed terminal. Arquitectonica is responsible for designing the American Airlines Arena and Brickell City Centre.
"Miami's become a very important place to us," Branson told Local 10 News after a news conference in Miami Beach. "We've also managed to get permission to take our cruise ships to Havana, which is very convenient for here. We've got a beautiful island, which is soon to be announced, where people will be going to in the Bahamas. So it's very convenient."
Branson and his team also unveiled renderings of what the new cruise terminal would look like if approved.
A storm-proof glass façade would allow natural light to flow into the building by day, and the Virgin Voyages logo would illuminate the Miami skyline at night.
It would be home to two Virgin Voyages cruise ships -- the Scarlet Lady, arriving in 2020, and a yet-to-be-named ship.
The 100,000-square-foot terminal would be located on the west side of the port at the site of an old ferry terminal currently being used by the U.S. Coast Guard and port police.
"By constructing a new cruise terminal at PortMiami, Virgin Voyages is signaling its confidence in our thriving community, which is not only the cruise capital of the world, but also the gateway to the Americas," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. "We are honored that Virgin Voyages has chosen PortMiami as its home starting in 2020."
If approved by Miami-Dade County commissioners, the new terminal would be completed by late 2021. Commissioners will vote on a memorandum of understanding Dec. 4.
Virgin Voyages will begin accepting bookings on Valentine's Day.
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