Miami International Airport will have a new airport hotel soon. But following a contentious vote in Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday, it may not have a second new one anytime soon.
The County Commission voted to award a contract to build a new airport hotel connected to Terminal D to FDR Miami Hotel LLC, the firm that scored highest during the competitive selection process. Commissioners voted unanimously to award FDR the contract.
FDR’s proposal is projected to bring the county around $240 million in revenue over the course of the 50-year lease. FDR is a joint venture of Miami-based Fontainebleau Development LLC led by Jeffrey Soffer and The Related Companies, which is chaired by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and headquartered in New York.
“Miami’s world-class airport deserves a world-class hotel,” a statement from FDR said after the vote. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the county and airport officials to make the best airport hotel a reality for Miami.”
Another resolution to enter into negotiations with Parmco Airport Hospitality LLC, the second-ranked firm, for a second airport hotel failed after a 7-6 vote. If the resolution had passed, it would not have bound the commission to a contract with Parmco. The second proposed hotel would have been built after FDR’s hotel and would have been at a lower price point than FDR’s four-star Westin hotel.
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Developers and county officials have said the airport needs a new hotel. Currently, the only hotel that connects directly to the airport is the Miami International Airport Hotel, which was built over 60 years ago. Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who voted in favor of the second resolution, called the offerings at this hotel “embarrassing” for Miami-Dade County.
Commissioner Marleine Bastien echoed Hardemon’s call for new hotels at the airport. She said given Miami’s status as “the capital of the Americas,” the airport should have two — or even three — high-quality airport hotels.
Paul Lambert, the manager of Parmco, previously told the Herald that hotels that connect to the airport typically have higher occupancy and per-night pricing. Hotels connected to the airport provide options for travelers with delays or cancellations, as well as those with late arrivals or early departures. Business travelers and cruise patrons are also potential customers for airport hotels.
During Tuesday’s commission meeting, Jonathan Vilma, one of Parmco’s principals, spoke in favor of the resolution to grant a second contract to his firm. He called a second airport hotel a “much-needed” project. And while a number of commissioners agreed that there should be another hotel, some expressed a desire for a separate solicitation process to choose the firm that will build that hotel.
Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, who voted against the second resolution, compared the proposal to negotiate with Parmco for a “participation trophy.” Commissioner René García said it would set a “bad precedent” in procurements.