Billion Dollar Baby
Like a fortress in an asphalt desert, the dated and underused Miami Beach Convention Center defines a dead zone at the heart of one of America’s most vibrant urban places.
As Miami Beach embarks on an ambitious push to overhaul the convention center and develop the surrounding sea of parking lots, it’s become one of the biggest opportunities for urban renewal in the country — a 52-acre blank slate bordering some of the hottest real estate and tourism anywhere.
As outlined by Beach officials, the brief is a challenging one: Not just to recharge a sagging yet vital convention business, but to create a lush and lively district with a new hotel, apartments, public gardens and plazas, shops and restaurants, all carefully woven into the contiguous, and historic, city fabric.
“This is the biggest deal for Miami Beach in a hundred years, since the city was incorporated,” planning board member Henry Stolar said at a recent hearing.