BRADENTON, Fla. - Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine wants to dismantle plans for a $1.2 billion mixed-use development with a private developer that includes renovating the city's aged convention center.
Levine, who was elected in November, said decoupling the public uses from the private uses would expedite the renovation project.
He said funding sources available for the project include proceeds from general obligation bonds issued by Miami-Dade County and revenue bonds issued by the city's Parking System Enterprise Fund.
The mayor told city commissioners in a recent memo that though the project was designed to generate private funds to subsidize the convention center project, it could be further delayed by a requirement to hold a referendum so voters can decide whether to lease city land to the developer for the private portion of the project.
"I have always had significant concerns with tying that process into the larger private development of city-owned land, as contemplated in the city's [request for qualifications] for the development of the 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center District," he wrote.
Levine recommended that commissioners rescind their action of last July to negotiate with Tishman South Beach ACE as the master developer, and solicit new proposals for a reduced convention center project, which would not require a referendum.
SBACE said in a Jan. 10 letter that the developers were "shocked and disappointed" to hear about Levine's proposal after spending millions "to produce a design that was vetted and approved by the community stakeholders."
"The city selected SBACE as the master developer for the repositioning of the convention center and agreed to deal with SBACE exclusively," the firm said. "We have now come to the conclusion that it was never the intention of the city to exclusively negotiate with SBACE."
The developer went on to suggest that the city will lose credibility if the process is restarted, and may have difficulty tempting reputable national development companies to respond with new proposals "for a project that is on at least its third iteration with no progress."
In August 2012, Miami Beach voters overwhelmingly agreed to increase the local tourist tax by 1% to support debt for the project.