Broward County, Fla., Qualifies Convention Center Firms

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BRADENTON, Fla. - Five companies want to be Broward County, Fla.'s private partner to expand the county's convention center and build an adjacent hotel.

The estimated $550 million project is expected to include bond financing for the 300,000-square-foot expansion of the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, officials said.

The private partner likely will finance, build, and own the planned convention center hotel with up to 1,250 rooms.

County commissioners, who are overseeing the project and making primary decisions, determined last week that five of six companies submitted qualifications to continue through the public-private partnership procurement process.

The companies are Fort Lauderdale Convention Center Hotel LLC, a partnership between Rida Development and Ares Management; Hensel Phelps Development LLC; Matthews Southwest Holdings Inc.; Omni Hotels Management Corp.; and The Related Companies LP and PRH Investments LLC doing business as The Related Group.

The developers will present design, build, and finance team members later this month.

Broward County commissioners anticipate funding the convention center expansion with bonds backed by a tourist development tax, according to officials.

Broward's TDT, currently 5%, is collected on hotel rooms and other types of short-term rentals.

Commissioners later this year will consider increasing the tax by 1%, which would generate an additional $10 million a year.

Last year, bed tax collections in Broward jumped 12% to $53 million over the prior year

The expansion project will bring the convention center to 900,000 square feet.

The current facility opened in 1991, and is located on 17 acres inside Port Everglades, adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway.

The convention center has never had a headquarters hotel, though the facility is in walking distance of many hotels.

Along with the expansion and hotel, Broward officials plan to add public spaces and waterfront amenities to create a regional destination, and attract more convention center and trade show business.

About 30 miles south of Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach officials are in the midst of approving a $500 million renovation and expansion plan for the city's convention center.

Miami Beach's 200,000-square foot expansion will bring the convention center's size to 1.4 million square feet. The project is expected to include an adjacent headquarters hotel.



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