The redevelopment of the 52-acre Miami Beach Convention district could be shaped by a team that includes Cirque du Soleil or by the group that helped revive New York's Times Square area.
Kathie Brooks, Miami Beach's city manager, Wednesday sent a report to the City Commission ranking the two groups vying for the ambitious project. The commissioners will weigh her findings at a Dec. 12 meeting.
The city wants to create a public-private partnership in which a developer would help pay for upgrades to the public facility.
The top-ranked team is Portman Holdings, which includes Miami developer Ugo Colombo and Cirque du Soleil, edging out South Beach ACE, which includes Miami Beach developer Robert Wennett.
As part of the redevelopment, the 53-year-old convention center would be renovated and meeting rooms, ballrooms and multipurpose space would be added.
The city wants to add 213,000 square feet of exhibition space to the 898,390-square-foot center.
Miami Beach officials also want a convention headquarters hotel with up to 1,200 rooms, outdoor public spaces, parking, restaurants, entertainment and retail space, and residential units to be included in the plan.
The area to be redeveloped includes the convention center, City Hall, the Jackie Gleason Theater, a municipal parking garage and a parking lot north of Lincoln Road and west of Washington Avenue.
Brooks' rankings were based on ratings of five development teams in June by an evaluation committee, which included Key Biscayne developer Martin Margulies and former Miami Beach City Commissioner Saul Gross.
If the commission accepts her recommendation, the city will next sign a letter of intent with both groups to come up with a detailed proposal. That would include a master plan for the site, an expansion plan for the convention center and a convention hotel, a plan to enhance public open spaces, a proposed 30-year plan to fund the project and a traffic impact analysis.