Downtown's Latest Megaproject, 350K-Square-Foot Convention Center, Faces Vote Today

Update: The project has passed the city commission with a unanimous vote. Now, developers will turn to the local CRA to negotiate tax breaks for the convention center space.

Life as a City of Miami commissioner must be confusing these days. After years of post-property-bust austerity and solemn promises to heed the dangers of overdevelopment, 2014 has suddenly found local leaders tossed back into a full-fledged downtown megaproject fiesta. Hard hats for everyone!

Just one week after greenlighting the massive Miami Worldcenter development, city commissioners have the chance today to approve key zoning exemptions for its neighboring superproject -- a $600 million deal to build a 350,000-square-foot convention center topped by a four-tier, 1,800-room hotel.

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See also: Massive Miami Worldcenter Project Passes Key Commission Vote

The deal would complete decades of haggling in the city of Miami to build a convention space to complement or compete with Miami Beach's 500,000-square-foot hall, where the biggest names in town, like Art Basel, set up shop.

Confusingly named the Marriott Marquis Miami World Center -- not to be confused with its next-door neighbor, the Miami Worldcenter -- the project would occupy the land where the Miami Arena once stood.

It's one of three huge projects slated to break ground in a 30-acre area west of AmericanAirlines Arena. The third project, All Aboard Florida's proposed downtown train station, would sit just west along the train tracks that already pass through the area.

Like the Worldcenter, which would combine massive new retail spaces with huge condo towers, the World Center needs special zoning approval from the city commission before it can move forward.

The project's design requires special exemptions, the Miami Herald reports, related to the fact that architects want to place a 54-story building atop a cavernous, open-air convention space.

Last week's vote, though it ended up unanimous, was more contentious than expected thanks to Commissioner Keon Hardemon who called developers out for pledging less jobs than expected to Overtown residents. After breaking the meeting for an hour and exacting promises for more jobs, he ended up supporting the deal.

Will there be more behind-the-scenes drama for the World Center today? We'll update this post when the commission tackles the plan.

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