Published on : Monday, April 23, 2018
The local tourism leaders are weighing an expansion of the 365,000-square-foot building which will promote MICE industry in Florida.
The Tourist Development Council of Florida voted this month to spend up to $50,000 to study expanding the convention center off Okeechobee Boulevard in downtown West Palm Beach. The study also will look at the inventory of hotel rooms around the Palm Beach County Convention Center to determine whether more would be needed to support a larger center.
The tourism leaders say the expansion of Palm Beach County Convention Center would allow the sales team to compete for larger events, while also spurring new hotel development downtown. Ultimately, industry experts say the growth would bring more tourists, creating additional jobs and increasing spending among out-of-town visitors.
Palm Beach County Convention Center has seen bookings skyrocket in the two years since the 400-room Hilton hotel opened next door.
Last budget year, the building turned an annual profit for the first time in its 14-year history.
Before the Hilton’s opening, the convention center was limited to competing for events that would generate a maximum of about 450 nightly hotel bookings, officials have said.
But when the Hilton’s 400 rooms are combined with those at other nearby hotels, including the West Palm Beach Marriott, the Hyatt Place and the Residence Inn in downtown West Palm Beach, the center’s sales team can vie for larger events.
While Palm Beach County’s overall size is 365,000 square feet, the exhibit hall is limited to 100,000 square feet. Original plans allowed for doubling it to 200,000. nThe overall size of Palm Beach County’s center is about half Broward’s 600,000-square-foot building. Miami Beach, one of the nation’s largest, boasts 1.4 million square feet, while Jacksonville’s Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center has 275,000 square feet overall. The Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council, which is overseeing the expansion study. The body is currently seeking proposals from firms across the country to conduct the analysis. Once completed, it will be up to the Palm Beach County Commission to decide whether to move forward.