Image courtesy City of Miami Beach
In February, Miami Beach directed Fentress Architects to complete design for the $520-million redo of its 1.4-million-sq-ft convention facility.

After budget constraints caused short-listed bidders to drop out of a design-build competition for a $520-million convention center renovation contract, the city of Miami Beach, Fla., is scratching the approach and soliciting a new round of proposals for a construction manager-at-risk firm.

The Feb. 11 decision by the Miami Beach city commission came about after the last remaining bidder, Clark Construction, informed officials in early February that it also could not deliver the 1.4-million-sq-ft renovation within the city's budget without significant deviations from the program. The other three short-listed bidders—Hensel Phelps Construction, Hunt Construction Group and Tutor Perini—had previously withdrawn for the same reason.

In a memo presented before a Feb. 11 meeting of the Miami Beach commission, city manager Jimmy Morales explained eleventh-hour discussions with Clark over its bidding.

"It became clear that Clark did not believe they could deliver the project for the city's budget, without the city hastily agreeing to a number of value-engineering or redesign proposals previously not considered," Morales stated. Specifically, some of Clark's proposed approaches would have required changes to the project's design-criteria package.

While Clark was willing to share its subcontractor bids with the city, Morales added, the lack of multiple design-build bidders meant the city could not ensure a fair price. As a result, he stated, "I recommend canceling (the design-build) RFP and moving forward with Plan B, which is to deliver the project under a construction manager-at-risk approach."

The long-sought revamping of the 50-plus-year-old convention center is funded via a maximum of $430 million in bonds, which Miami-Dade County approved last December.

This recent shift in strategy is not the first. In July 2013, the city chose Rem Koolhaas and his Netherlands-based firm, OMA, to redesign the facility, and a Tishman-led team to develop the project. That plan included leasing public land to private firms for development as a way to fund the makeover, touted at the time as a $1-billion project. However, shortly after his election, Mayor Philip Levine led an effort to nix that approach and restart the project.

Last May, Miami Beach hired a team led by Fentress Architects as architect, charging them with delivering drawings for the design-build procurement. However, at the February commission meeting, the city approved paying Fentress nearly $14.5 million to finalize design documents for the CM-at-risk procurement.

The city estimates no change to the project's schedule, with construction starting in late 2015, and completion by 2018.