New designs emerge for redevelopment of Knight Center and Hyatt in downtown Miami

Posted on 9 May 2022 by Miami Herald

Hyatt Hotels Corp. and two local firms are planning to unveil a new design for a long-stalled redevelopment of the chain’s Regency hotel downtown and the city’s 40-year-old James L. Knight Center complex.

The concept, which will be presented for the first time Tuesday morning to a subcommittee of the Miami River Commission, would transform the convention center complex, completed in 1982, into a three-tower structure that would add contours to Miami’s growing skyline.

It would create a public promenade along the riverfront with green space and a terraced entrance to restaurants. Renderings provided to the Miami Herald show rounded, glassy facades stretching into the sky would replace the shorter, blockier concrete exterior.

One of a list of aging city-owned sites eyed for redevelopment for years, the property near the mouth of the Miami River at 400 SE Second Ave. currently has auditoriums, meeting space and a 612-room hotel run by Hyatt under a long-term lease executed in 1979. Under existing terms, Hyatt would in 2027 have the option of renewing the lease for another 45 years.

Hyatt previously presented plans in 2017 and 2018, though the matter never made it to the ballot. Now, Hyatt has tapped a Miami-based team including developer Gencom and Arquitectonica to design a new vision for a complete overhaul of the property. The team will ask the city to extend the lease for another 99 years.

The financial terms of the proposal are still being negotiated and land appraisals are not yet complete, according to Miami City Manager Art Noriega’s administration. The city commission is not expected to consider a complete proposal until late June. Any deal would need voter approval under a city law that requires a referendum for long-term leases of city-owned waterfront property. The developers plan to ask commissioners to place the question on the November ballot.

For now, the development team is focused on introducing the new design concept in hopes of gaining traction with City Hall and other civic leaders.

“We would hope the architecture of the site would become a postcard shot of Miami,” said Phil Keb, executive vice president of Gencom.