Early construction work has started on the $900 million Broward County Convention Center expansion in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, according to the county's owner representative, The Weitz Co. Matthews Southwest Inc. is the project's developer.
Construction will double the existing 600,000-square-foot convention center to more than 1.2 million square feet, which will include 350,000 square feet of connected exhibition space. The expansion also includes a new 65,000-square-foot waterfront ballroom, technology upgrades, a variety of dining spaces, improvements to water taxi service and a waterfront plaza, which will be accessible to the public.
A new 800-room Omni Hotel will increase total meeting space within the conference center complex by 73,000 square feet and provide visitors with an 11,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, along with entertainment, retail and dining venues.
Weitz will oversee and work with the design-build team, which includes general contractor Balfour Beatty, lead design architect Stantec, convention center expansion architect Fentress and hotel architect Nunzio Marc DeSantis.
Currently underway and expected to continue through March, according to Weitz, is site work and demolition of the nearby, three-story Portside Yachting Center. The convention center expansion is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2023.
Convention centers across the country are upgrading their facilities and increasing their meeting capacity in order to bring in lucrative conventions and trade shows. Broward County estimates that the enhanced convention center will add 1,000 local jobs and boost the economy by $100 million each year.
In September, just south of Ft. Lauderdale in Miami Beach, the city wrapped up a three-year $620 million renovation and expansion of the Miami Beach Convention Center that increased the size of the facility to 1.4 million square feet, which includes a 60,000-square-foot ballroom, 84 meeting rooms and 500,000 square feet of exhibition space, according to the South Florida Business Journal. In November, Miami Beach voters approved a measure that will add a full-service hotel next door.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is also working on a convention center expansion, this one a $1.4 billion undertaking that will add 1.4 million square feet to the city's existing facilities. The Martin-Harris-Turner JV has contracts for all three phases of construction — one for $2.6 million of preconstruction services, a second for the $792 million expansion phase and a third, $3.5 million fee-based construction manager at risk contract for the renovation of the center’s existing space. That project will be complete in 2023, but the addition is scheduled to be ready in time to host the massive international consumer electronics show CES in January 2021.