A cloudy sky was not going to dispel the long anticipated ribbon cutting ceremony of Miami Beach’s re-imagined 21st century Miami Beach Convention Center, reports Ilona Kauremszky, attending the event for Press Today.
Last Tuesday key representatives from Florida’s Miami-Dade County which consisted of two mayors: Miami-Dade County’s Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Beach’s Mayor Dan Gelber, Arquitectonica architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia alongside other dignitaries rubbed shoulders for this ceremonial photo-op to commemorate the completion of a three year $620-million renovation and expansion of the historic center.
The official ceremony to inaugurate the newly renovated convention center occurred in time to host the 17th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, the city’s arts darling which ran from Thursday to Sunday.
“This is going to be the most amazing destination for our residents, regionally and from those visiting us from afar,” relayed Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber to hundreds in attendance as he stood in front of the 60-year-old newly renovated structure where he once worked as an usher during his teen years.
Now a silver LEED-certified building, the glassy-wave facade also exemplifies the city’s focus on sustainability. The renovation and expansion includes a 60,000 sq. ft multi-purpose ballroom, 84 meeting spaces and four exhibition halls that brings the space to 1.4 million square feet.
According to officials, every detail has been aimed to boost Miami’s growing tourism and convention industry. Art installations also take a strong focus with the debut of “About Sand,” a mural by German artist Franz Ackermann located near Washington Avenue and 18th Street. Other future projects include an 800-room convention anchor hotel, the transformation of the Carl Fisher Club House built in 1916 as well as six acres of green space.
Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales explained during the last three years, portions of the building remained open for business resulting in 44 hosted events which included hosting the last two Art Basels. “All this despite a near miss hurricane, Matthew, and Hurricane Irma last year. The only shows that were ever cancelled during these last three years were cancelled by those natural events,” he said.
William D. Talbert III, President of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau told Baxter Media meeting planners better hurry and book. “ The ocean’s right over here. Lincoln Road is right over here. You have the Miami Beach Botanical Garden nearby so my message to meeting planners is you better sign up.”
Ever since opening in 1958, the convention center has hosted many of the region’s historic events including Muhammad Ali’s first heavyweight championship in Hall C defeating Sonny Liston in 1964 and both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 1972. It was the last time both party conventions were held in the same city.
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Seen in the photo at top of page:
Left to right (above and top photo): City Manager Jimmy Morales, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Bill Talbert, Miami Beach City Commissioners Micky Steinberg and John Elizabeth Alemán, Arquitectonica architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and Commissioners Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Mark Samuelian and Ricky Arriola.