Miami Beach commissioners hope to have recommendations ready by December to select developers for its new convention center district.
Commissioners also hope to select developers in December for a separate nearby project to redevelop city lots near the Lincoln Road shopping mall.
Both projects have been bogged down in controversy from conflict-of-interest and procedural complaints with city committees that evaluated bidders. In addition, the process had been delayed by a corruption investigation earlier this year centered on the city’s former procurement director, Gus Lopez, whose office was overseeing bidding on the projects. Delays also were caused by last summer’s resignation of the city manager, Jorge Gonzalez, who was involved in developing concepts and parameters for the projects.
Commissioners voted last week to restart the evaluation process, directing city administrators to form a new committee for the so-called Lincoln Lane project while keeping the existing committee for the Convention Center, minus Elsie Howard, who recently resigned.
Both committees are expected to review videotape of the past presentations from development teams vying for the projects, then meet with the teams individually, hold public deliberation sessions and re-rank the teams for commissioners to consider. The moves are intended to quell speculation that the committees were not as fair or open to the public as they should have been in previously carrying out the process.
Although a date hasn’t been set for the committees to report back with their recommendations for the winning bidders, commissioners hope the process can be completed within two months.
Interim City Manager Kathie Brooks and her administrative team are overseeing the Convention Center and Lincoln Lane projects while the city searches for a permanent manager. Mr. Gonzalez resigned in July amid mounting criticism of his administration.
Commissioner Jerry Libbin said commissioners hope to have the committees’ new rankings of the bidders in time to select winners in December and to get the projects underway soon thereafter. The city’s meeting schedule shows commissioners will meet Dec. 12, or Dec. 19 as an alternate date.
The concept called for redeveloping up to a 52-acre city-owned site, including the Convention Center and its parking lots, the adjoining Jackie Gleason/Fillmore Theater, Miami Beach City Hall across the street, and the nearby 17th Street municipal parking garage.
A similar formula for nearby Lincoln Lane calls for selecting developers to redevelop several city-owned lots off of the Lincoln Road shopping mall, also allowing developers to create within a given framework, such as building affordable retail space for small businesses.
Source: Miami Today
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