Belle Isle gets Convention Center hotel pitch today; the argument against it hits our mailboxes

Jack Portman, whose Atlanta-based development firm is seeking voter approval for a major hotel next to the Miami Beach Convention Center, will discuss his plans tonight with Belle Isle residents at Costa Brava, 11 Island Ave.

IMG_5582Meanwhile, former Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson sent a mailer that hit our mailbox Monday urging a no vote on the hotel on March 15. It says the 30-story hotel will generate too much traffic.

IMG_5580Tuesday’s presentation happens at 6 p.m. in the Costa Brava card room, on the mezzanine level.

To move forward, the project needs a 60 percent majority vote on March 15 — Florida Presidential Primary day — because it involves the use of city land.

While some have criticized the project because of its potential impact on traffic, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau supports it as a necessary complement to the renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center. The city broke ground in December on a $600 million renovation of the convention center.

Convention Center hotel developer to pitch his project to Belle Isle on Tuesday

The leader of the company that wants to build a major hotel next to Miami Beach’s under-renovation Convention Center will provide an overview of the plans to Belle Isle residents Tuesday night.

Jack Portman, vice chairman of Atlanta-based Portman Holdings, will meet with Belle Isle residents at 6 p.m. in the card room on the mezzanine level at Costa Brava, 11 Island Ave.

Portman is meeting with Sunset Harbour residents on Monday night.

Miami Beach voters will be deciding on March 15 — Florida Presidential Primary Day — whether to allow the lease of city land west of The Fillmore/Jackie Gleason Theater for the hotel site.

Portman Holdings wants to build a privately funded, $400 million, 800-room hotel on the site. It would be 30 stories high.

Support from 60 percent of Miami Beach voters is needed for the project to move forward.

Critics of the hotel have said it will bring additional traffic through the already crowded 17th Street and Dade Boulevard corridor.

But backers — which include the tourism community and the Collins Park Neighborhood Association — said it an important part of the future success of the Convention Center. Work started in December on a $600 million renovation of the convention center.

A look at the DiLido Island construction boom

If you live on DiLido Island, this isn’t news to you: There’s a mansion boom.

For those of you who aren’t aware, here’s a deep look from The Real Deal.

Can Belle Isle Park be a safe and shared play space for dogs and kids?

Dogs playing unleashed Sunday in Belle Isle Park.

Dogs playing unleashed Sunday in Belle Isle Park.

Back in the middle of the last decade, when Miami Beach renovated Belle Isle Park, planners envisioned a passive park with designated play space for dogs in two fenced runs.

Sophie Landers, the granddoggerBack then, dogs hugely outnumbered kids in Belle Isle residences and Belle Isle Park.

You can make the case now that that kids are catching up — or have caught up.

If you live on our island, you know the demographics of Belle Isle have changed a lot. We have many more young families. You see moms and dads pushing strollers and walking and running little ones every day in and around the park.

There are also many dogs with owners outside the dog runs — which is perfectly fine — and often others running the park unleashed, which isn’t so fine.

Some parents  have approached the Belle Isle Residents Association to ask if there could be a dog-free patch of Belle Isle Park. They’d like an area where their kids could safely play without having to worry about them falling into a pile of poop or pee from an errant pet.

You may think, “hey, there’s a great playground at Maurice Gibb Park, go there.” And true, there is. But that’s a long way to push a stroller for a few minutes of exercise, and even more difficult with our ongoing road construction. With a park at our front door, should it be necessary if all you want to do is run around with your kids?

If you are thinking that dog owners are required to clean up after their pets, you are correct. But even the cleanup leaves a residue, and no one cleans up after a dog that pees on the grass.

At the residents association meeting on Jan. 21, BIRA President Scott Diffenderfer asked for volunteers to discussion ways Belle Isle can address the issue. A couple of parents reached out at the meeting, but more involvement would be welcomed. If you are interested, email


Beach Commission to reconsider expedited Dade Boulevard work at Feb. 10 meeting – and why

On Wednesday, the Miami Beach City Commission deferred a vote to approve a no-bid, $2.2 million contract to raise Dade Boulevard between the bridge to Belle Isle and the passage over the Collins Canal.

The main reason for the delay: That stretch of Dade Boulevard is a county road, and the city administration had not worked out an agreement for Miami-Dade to pay for the project. The city expects to get those details ironed out, and the project is likely to be voted on at the commission’s Feb. 10 meeting.

But commissioners also discussed the possibility of delaying the work to include it in the bid to build the new West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal. Bidding the work out, instead of approving a no-bid contact, is likely to save 10-15 percent, city staff said at Wednesday’s meeting.

Formal bids also likely will delay both the Dade Boulevard work near the Purdy Avenue intersection, as well as the start of work on the West Avenue bridge. That’s because bids on West Avenue are to be opened on Feb. 10; adding this work to that project would require extending the bidding period for at least 30 days.

The city administration favors expediting the Dade Boulevard/Purdy work so at least some of it can be done before the Venetian Causeway reopens to mainland Miami on March 1.


The Venetian reopening is sure to mean more traffic over the flood prone stretch, and the construction will mean disruptions, even though the city says one lane in each direction will be kept open at all times. The work is expected to take about 75 days.

It’s worth noting that when the West Avenue bridge is built, another stretch of Dade Boulevard — where the bridge will sloped down to Sunset Harbour — will be raised as much as six feet above it’s current elevation.



Storm warning: Belle Isle’s early light


On a stormy Thursday, an ominous light rises over Souith Beach from Belle Isle.

Miami Beach City Commission delays vote on Dade Boulevard road-raising work

The Miami Beach commissioners delayed a decision Wednesday on a $2.2 million contract to raise a flood-prone section of Dade Boulevard at Belle isle’s east entrance.

The stretch of Dade Boulevard runs east from the edge of Maurice Gibb Memorial Park and the easternmost Venetian Causeway bridge segment to just west of where 17th Street splits off of Dade Boulevard.

It’s flood-prone at high tides, and forms the southern border of the Sunset Harbour sea-level rise project. The money would pay for raising the road up to three feet, as well as seawall improvements, landscaping and traffic signal modernization.

City engineer Bruce Mowry told Belle Isle residents last week that he hoped the city would get the project 75-day project started as quickly as possible to minmize its impact once the Venetian Causeway reopens to mainland Miami, which is expected on March 1.