One of the largest redevelopment projects in the history of Miami Beach is a step closer to becoming reality.
The Miami Beach City Commission on Wednesday approved by a 6-1 vote two teams to come up with competing plans to redevelop the 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center district.
The rival teams are Portman Holdings, which includes Miami developer Ugo Colombo and Cirque du Soleil, and South Beach ACE, which includes Miami Beach developer Robert Wennett. The city hopes to determine the winner in six months.
The city followed the lead of interim City Manager Kathie Brooks, who submitted her recommendation to the commission last week.
The city wants to create a public-private partnership in which a developer would, among other things, help pay for the expansion of the 53-year-old convention center and construction of a convention hotel.
"This will be [your] legacy, and I hope you will move forward with this because it is very necessary for the community," Key Biscayne developer Martin Margulies said. He was a member of the city evaluation committee that reviewed and ranked eight development teams interested in the job. The committee gave Portman and South Beach ACE the top ranking.
The Portman CMC development team consists of Miami-based CMC Group, led by Colombo, Atlanta-based Portman Holdings, Bal Harbour-based Whitman Lanzenby Properties and Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.
South ACE includes New York-based Tishman Hotel & Realty LP and Miami Beach-based UIA Management, led by Wennett.
At the City Commission meeting, both teams received backing from a variety of groups, including the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Plans to expand and modernize the convention center have been in the works for more than a decade. Its size and dated technology have kept large conventions away, tourism advocates say.