Art Basel in Miami Beach Fair Scrambles to Work Around 45-Day Construction Delay

An emergency meeting is reportedly planned for August.

artnet News has learned that renovation delays at the Miami Beach Convention Center are prompting serious concern from Art Basel in Miami Beach organizers—Swiss company MCH—about the potential impact on the behemoth fair that takes place there each December.

According to a brief story that appeared today in the Miami Herald, the convention center expansion, which is being handled by Clark Construction, is 45 days behind schedule due to “snags with planning, permitting and design modifications,” according to a memo from City Manager Jimmy Morales. According to Clark’s website the contract is valued at $500 million.

But sources told artnet News that the delays are far more serious—estimating that the project is roughly three to four months behind schedule—and that an emergency meeting is planned between fair organizers and convention center management for early August. However, an Art Basel spokesperson maintains that this meeting “has been scheduled for months.”

Miami Beach Convention Center Photo: Jeff Herron

Miami Beach Convention Center. Courtesy of Jeff Herron.

Matt Hollander, general manager of the convention center, confirmed to artnet News that there were elements of the construction that were behind schedule, but also said that fair is on target for the originally planned move-in date.

“The Art Basel fair will be taking place as scheduled, utilizing all four halls as originally intended,” says Hollander. “So, in terms of delivering for Art Basel, we’re on target to do so. I have regular meetings with them, so they’re fully aware of the construction schedules.”

Despite the delay, fair spokesman Bob Goodman told the Herald the art fair team is in regular contact with City Hall and is not worried about the upcoming edition. “We’re monitoring construction and we’re confident they’ll be ready,” said Goodman. “We’re optimistic and we’re hopeful.”

Related: Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015: The Final Sales Report

Maria Hernandez, project director for the City of Miami, confirmed these sentiments to artnet News over email, writing, “The 45-day ‘delay’ is being made up next year and will not affect the 2016 show.” However, Hernandez cryptically notes that “spaces such as [the] 2nd floor ballrooms that are part of the project, but not part of what the show needs until 2017, will be pushed to next year.”

The city claims the delays will not affect the art fair since “there is a plan to catch up and shift some work to early 2017.”

A spokesperson for Fitz and Co., which handles public relations for the fair, said in an email to artnet News that the construction plan is carefully designed so that the shows in 2016 and 2017 will not be impacted.

“Renovations to the MBCC are being conducted in 3 separate phases,” the spokesperson said. “2016 will see a completed renovation of the lobby and entrance on the East side facing Collins Avenue as well as renovated Halls A & B, along with structural development of the North side and initial construction for a new Grand Ballroom; 2017 will reveal a completed interior renovation to all four exhibition halls, upgrades to the existing infrastructure and a renovated entrance and lobby on the West side. There will be ongoing development on the North side and to the Grand Ballroom; and by 2018 we should see a fully renovated convention center, complete with new architectural elements on the exterior and a newly developed public park where the parking lot used to exist.”

artnet News reached out to Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine’s press person, and to Clark Construction’s project manager, but did not receive an immediate response.


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