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Broward Commission Moves Convention Center Hotel and Expansion Project Forward
DATE: August 18, 2016  
MEDIA CONTACT:  Kimberly Maroe 
Public Information Manager, Broward County Commission 
PHONE: 954-357-8053

Alan Cohen
Broward County Administration
PHONE: (954) 357-7364

BROWARD COUNTY, FL - Plans to expand the Broward County Convention Center and build a Headquarters Hotel took a giant leap forward on Tuesday as Commissioners took bold steps to solidify their commitment to a $550-million project destined to increase convention business, bring more visitors and generate an estimated $100+ million in annual economic activity.

"This project will create jobs, grow the economy, increase convention business and bring amenities that residents and visitors will utilize and enjoy. We're doing what's necessary to move this forward and we expect great things in the future," said Broward Mayor Marty Kiar.

Commissioners unanimously elected to move forward with developer Matthews Southwest Holdings and approved a pre-development agreement to have them design and build the project. They also approved the purchase of development rights for over 4 acres of land adjacent to the current convention center known as the Portside Yachting Center. This $30.3 million investment provides the County additional development entitlements, will allow for better access to the Convention Center campus and expand design options to meet the needs of the City and the County.

"The Commission is committed to this project and we are moving forward to make our vision a reality with the intent and understanding that this will benefit our economy, businesses and residents," said Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief.

"There is an opportunity here. We're in a position to do something really great," said Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca. "We're expecting to generate $100-million in economic activity and this project will include entertainment and dining for local residents as well as visitors and those here for a convention."

"Purchasing the adjacent Portside Yachting Center property is a real game changer. There's a whole new opportunity here and I hope for a new project with visual appeal. It's a very exciting opportunity that you have here in Broward," said Commissioner Lois Wexler.

Matthews presented plans in April for a 400,000 square foot expansion of the current convention center and the addition of an 800 room AAA 4-diamond rated convention center headquarters hotel 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.

"This is a very important investment for the people of Broward County. It's one that we need to do and sooner rather than later, because currently a lot of dollars are not coming here that otherwise should to ensure that we're growing our economy, creating jobs for people and strengthening this destination," said Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness

"I echo the statements made here today. I'm also interested to see what architectural possibilities there are with the addition of the Portside Yachting Center property," said Commissioner Beam Furr.

"The convention center and hotel are extremely important parts of attracting big conventions and trade shows to Broward County. A state of the art facility is a missing link in Broward County today," said Commissioner Mark Bogen.

Commissioners directed County staff to move forward and work in collaboration with the City of Fort Lauderdale to address municipal and County needs, and resident and business input. The next step will focus on working collaboratively with the City of Fort Lauderdale and the design team to better align the conceptual design proposal with City and County priorities.

"We want to build a destination site that is going to be something that will enhance not only the experience for someone at the convention center, but also will enhance tourism throughout this area to benefit every business in Broward and work with the City of Fort Lauderdale and residents to make this happen," said Commissioner Tim Ryan.

"This investment by the County Commission will bring an important economic boost to our community as larger conferences will now be attracted to the expanded facility and new onsite hotel," said Bertha Henry, Broward County Administrator. "Now we will work jointly with Fort Lauderdale and the development team to realize the Board's bold vision."

Commissioners also accepted the addition of Balfour Beatty Construction to the development team, a leading US commercial developer with their state headquarters in Broward County. Once the design plan is finalized, construction is expected to being in 2018 with an anticipated opening in 2020.