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Commissioners Accept Initial Plans for New Convention Center Hotel and Expansion
DATE: April 28, 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberly Maroe 
Public Information Manager, Broward County Commission 

PHONE: (954) 357-8053

BROWARD COUNTY, FL - Commissioners are moving forward with the process to expand the Broward County Convention Center and build a headquarters hotel to attract more business to the area.

Developer Matthews Southwest Holdings presented plans for a twenty-four story, 800 room convention center hotel suitable for an AAA 4-diamond rating that would include retail space, restaurants, an intermodal transportation area and plenty of open space to take advantage of the Intracoastal Waterway. The hotel would meet requirements to be LEED Gold certified.

The initial plans provide a starting point to move the project forward with revisions expected through out the process. Commissioners voiced various concerns about the design, parking availability, transportation, traffic flow and financing of the project.

"There are many aspects to this project.  We're building a hotel and expanding our convention center. As we move forward, we'll gather more information and make decisions accordingly," said Mayor Marty Kiar.

"Moving this project forward and building an iconic hotel and world class convention center is our stated goal. This is a good start," said Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief.

"We're doing this to attract convention business from other parts of the country and potentially the world. People do attend conferences throughout the year and we know that we're losing about $100-million annually as a result of not having a convention center hotel," said Commissioner Stacy Ritter.

"You got a lot of this right," said Commissioner Lois Wexler. "The one part that needs work is the financial piece. There are many more opportunities that we can pursue to make it more palatable."

"As you hope to achieve an iconic site, I think to make it a destination you'll want more than just a hotel and convention center. You'll want to continue business throughout the year, not just the tourist season. I think you'll really want to make it appealing to local folks. Your ideas are fantastic, I would just like to see more of a public component, especially along the waterway," said Commissioner Tim Ryan.

"When it comes to the design, there's more on the positive side than not. Transportation is going to be a big issue, because the goal is to get cars off of 17th street," said Commissioner Chip LaMarca.

"There will be a tremendous amount of economic activity and jobs created from this project. I would like to see enough outdoor space for events that will bring more people to the area. As we move forward, we'll want to look at every avenue to make sure we get this completed for the people of Broward County," said Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness.

"I look forward to working with the developer and moving the project forward with the flexibility to make changes as we gather more information and finalize the design and financials associated with the hotel and expansion. This is a good start," said Commissioner Mark Bogen.

"I know that we're looking for an iconic building and I don't think this design is iconic. As we progress, we might have to take a second shot at a different design. I think this is good, but you've shown us other work that I thought was better," said Commissioner Beam Furr.

Commissioners will discuss the project again on May 10. Once the design plan is finalized, developers estimate that construction could begin in 2018 with a soft-opening in August 2020.