City Commissioners this week approved a long-term contract to keep Design Miami in Miami Beach for six years through 2023 with an option to renew for an additional five years through 2028.
Since 2010, Design Miami has been located in the surface parking lot adjacent to the Convention Center in conjunction with the Art Basel Miami show. With the new Convention Center coming online next year and Art Basel’s recent long-term commitment to Miami Beach, Design Miami began discussions with the City on its future. Following completion of the Convention Center, the parking lot will become a public park. To accommodate Design Miami, the park will require design changes including rearranging the location of the tree canopy and electrical and footing improvements for installation of the Design Miami exhibit tent. Using the model of the Frieze London art show held annually in Regent’s Park in London, Design Miami will be located within the park near the west side of the Convention Center.
At the Commission’s Finance and Citywide Projects Committee meeting last week, Commissioners asked Design Miami to pay some or all of the $355,000 cost for the park redesign. But at the Commission meeting, representatives for Design Miami said that would be a hardship and they asked Commissioners to approve the contract as negotiated.
Neisen Kasdin, a representative for Design Miami, said, “Art Basel is, of course, the most important show that we have in this whole region and has been for a number of years. It was a large part of the reason for redesigning the Convention Center to accommodate shows of this caliber, of this type.”
“There is only one other show in all of the dozens of shows during the period of Art Basel that is actually officially part of Art Basel and that is Design Miami,” Kasdin noted. “The one thing that has made Art Basel Miami Beach so powerful internationally is not only the main show itself but also all of the satellite shows, which in combination make it the greatest art fair in the world. We all know that most of those satellite shows, the vast majority are over on the City of Miami side. There’s a lot of accommodation made for those shows as well.” But founder Craig Robins “decided to buck that trend” moving the fair from the Design District “notwithstanding Craig’s huge investment in the Design District”, Kasdin said. “They want it to be co-located with the main show, that it is the only show that is officially legally connected and related to Art Basel. As we look at the big picture and the redesign of the Convention Center … one of the things that needs to be accommodated is Design Miami.”
With regard to the request for help defraying the City’s costs to redesign the park, Kasdin said, “I have discussed this at length with the show’s ownership and the truth of the matter is that show has not made money. It’s a labor of love and an investment on Craig’s part to create something great for the community and so there are true financial reasons why we think it’s important to incentivize them to stay here.”
Jen Roberts, Design Miami CEO, told Commissioners, “We originally wanted to be in the Convention Center. That would have helped us have a permanent home and really be affordable.” Accommodating the necessary changes to locate in the park “is extremely expensive for us and incurring additional costs is going to make it a really heavy burden for us,” she said. “We understand why we weren’t able to get into the Convention Center but that means we remain an unprofitable fair and with the restrictions on timing and some of the other considerations of working in a park, we’re incurring significantly more expenses.”
Design Miami agreed to a shortened move-in time and to accommodate the City’s annual Veterans Day observances to be held in the park. In addition, the park location requires Design Miami to purchase new walls for $1.2m and pay for annual warehousing fees of $40,000 for them. Roberts said the use of the modular walls cuts down on customization “which means we can’t utilize all of the space. The tent is already smaller because we have a cutout to accommodate the tree plantings in the park so we’ve already lost some square footage. We lose the plaza space that we have now in the parking lot so we lose sellable space.” While she does not have estimates yet on the total costs, Roberts said, “It will be a lot, many thousands of dollars in that sense.” In addition, Design Miami has committed to resod the lawn at a cost of $100,00 every year “to fix the park when we leave it which we have every intention of doing well.”
Roberts said she wanted to see the show continue not just for the first six years of the contract but for the additional five years as well. “It’s my responsibility to make it into something that can survive,” she said. “It really is a heavy burden. Even the increase in annual rent will be a heavy burden for us.”
Under the agreement, starting in 2019, Design Miami’s fees will increase from $107,000 to $150,000 annually plus applicable taxes with a CPI escalation. In 2018, due to the “park transition” from parking lot/construction staging area, the fee will be $128,500 plus taxes.
City Manager Jimmy Morales said he’s comfortable with the agreement as drafted. “They are not a rich show and I take their word for it on that.”
Commissioner Ricky Arriola explained the discussion that occurred with the Finance Committee. “We asked staff to discuss if there was a way for them to share the cost [of the park redesign]. I also said, regardless, we need to keep Design Miami here in Miami Beach. It is an amazing fair and we’re its home and we want to keep it for a very long time, so if your budget doesn’t permit it, I think we still go forward with our park redesign and we renew this contract for another however many years.”
Under the agreement, should Design Miami terminate the agreement for convenience prior to 2023, the show would reimburse the City for the redesign costs and cost of electrical and footing improvements related to the Design Miami shows.
Approval was unanimous.
Design Miami, like Art Basel, has two shows per year, one in Basel in June and Design Miami in December. It is a limited-edition marketplace for museum-quality furniture, lighting, and objects d’art.
design miami gets long-term agreement:
art fair attached to art basel will remain in miami beach