BRADENTON, Fla. — After taking years to develop a public-private partnership for a $1 billion renovation of the aged Miami Beach Convention Center, city commissioners called off the deal.
Commissioners and Mayor Philip Levine, most elected in November, unanimously voted Jan. 15 to drop the P3 with South Beach Arts Culture Entertainment LLC, also known as SBACE, a consortium that includes New York-based Tishman, a major hotel developer, and local developer Robert Wennett.
The project would have encompassed the convention center, along with creating a hotel, shopping and entertainment district.
Levine said his plan, to issue separate contracts for convention center renovations and the hotel, would expedite a smaller-scale project that fits the needs of the city.
"Miami Beach is not about attracting massive conventions," a commissioner told NBC Channel 6, adding that the famed beach is about arts and culture.
City officials were negotiating a contract with SBACE, which was chosen in July as the master developer for the 52-acre larger project.
On a special website, ACE said it "comprised of an all-star team of architects and developers" to work on the project, which had attracted national attention.
After hearing of Levine's plan to dismantle the P3 in advance of Wednesday's meeting, SBACE said in a Jan. 10 letter that the developers were "shocked and disappointed" to hear about the mayor's proposed change in direction 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."
To accomplish the P3 would have required a referendum to seek voter approval for leasing land for the larger project.
City officials said Wednesday that the smaller project can move forward without a vote.
In August 2012, Miami Beach voters overwhelmingly agreed to increase the local tourist tax by 1% to support debt for the project.
Levine said other funding sources are available for the smaller project, including proceeds from general obligation bonds issued by Miami-Dade County, and bonds issued by the city's Parking System Enterprise Fund.
The city expects to have bid proposals ready in March and April for the convention center and hotel, according to the Miami Herald. A new cost estimate for the small project has not been released.