Can you find a solution for the high rents driving out small businesses on Lincoln Road and build a Convention Center hotel to attract new business to the City? Commissioner Michael Grieco thinks so.
His idea? Build a hotel on the site of the garage at 17th Street and Convention Center Drive and replace that parking with garages on two surface lots a few blocks away that would include ground floor retail spaces for small businesses that can no longer afford the rent on Lincoln Road.
In response to a question at a neighborhood meeting for Commission candidates in Mid-Beach last night, Grieco said, conceptually he supports the idea of a Convention Center hotel that would bring larger conventions to the City with attendees from out of town versus the more local nature of the current shows that generate large amounts of traffic from people driving to attend them.
However, Grieco said he is not a fan of the most recent proposal from the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Convention Center Hotel to build a hotel on City-owned property adjacent to the Convention Center by tearing down the Fillmore Theater and rebuilding it either inside or next to the new hotel. “If they try to knock down the Fillmore, I’m going to stand in front of a bulldozer,” he told the nearly 70 people gathered at the Royal Embassy condominium.
The first proposal to build an 800-room, 288-foot tall hotel was supported by 54% of the City’s voters in March 2016, just short of the 60% approval needed. The new proposal would be for a lower rise hotel, spread over a larger area of City-owned property that includes the Fillmore Theater.
[Image above: rendering of latest Convention Center hotel proposal on left; 17th Street garage is on the right.]
Later, in response to a question from RE:MiamiBeach, Grieco wrote in an email, “I think knocking down the Jackie Gleason/Fillmore is not only a bad idea in a vacuum, but it will be politically unpopular enough to cause a second failure at reaching the 60% threshold required for referendum passage.”
Grieco says his idea addresses two important issues, the need for a Convention Center hotel “and untenable market forces on Lincoln Road.” He noted, “Let me make clear, I am a believer in the free market and I do not support overreaching local governmental efforts to curate private property.”
That said, he believes the City can build “two in-scale parking structures” on the two surface lots at Lincoln and Meridian and Lincoln and Lenox and include ground floor retail that would be owned and maintained by the City. “That retail can support locally-owned businesses, outdoor cafés, art galleries and a litany of other shops that can not afford current Lincoln Road prices.”
Those new garages would free up the 17th Street garage for other uses, namely a Convention Center hotel. “That property can support a low-rise, in-scale, sizable hotel that can be connected by a northbound footbridge to the Convention Center,” Grieco says. “I believe long-term that some form of adjacent hotel will happen and needs to if we want to support conventions in lieu of drive-in, traffic-snarling, locally-driven trade shows, but the proposal also needs to be politically viable for a super majority of the electorate.”
The Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendation was on the City Commission agenda for July but was not heard due to time constraints. No word yet on if it will be on the September agenda.
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