Miami zoning board grants Braman OK to build large new showroom

The city of Miami’s land use board has given auto magnate Norman Braman the green light to build a nearly 100,000-square-foot, seven-story automotive showroom and parking garage on the site of his Braman Motors operation on Biscayne Boulevard.

The Planning and Zoning Advisory Board voted 7-2 Wednesday night to award Braman a special exception under the new Miami 21 zoning rules that will allow him to build in excess of 55,000 square feet. There was limited discussion before the vote.

The item had been deferred in February, when board members asked Braman to get the okay from his neighbors and refine the plan, including landscaping details. Currently, the property contains a showroom and surface parking.

On Wednesday, Braman’s attorneys presented a letter of support from the Young Arts Foundation, new owners of the historic Bacardi building on Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 21st Street, directly across the street from the northern end of Braman’s property.

The new building will take up almost the entire block between 20th and 21st streets, from the Boulevard west to Northeast Second Avenue. It’s now occupied by a showroom that would be demolished, and a surface parking lot. That’s only one of several blocks in the area where Braman has auto dealerships and parking lots.

His representatives told the board that the new building will allow consolidation of parking now spread across the area, and reduce the movement of vehicles through the neighborhood.

The plan also includes a truck driveway and loading area running through the center of the property from 20th to 21st Street. It’s designed so that the large trucks that transport new cars to the dealership can load and unload off the streets and out of view.

The new building will have a luxury showroom with large glass windows facing the Boulevard on the ground floor. Upstairs will be several stories of parking for about 90 vehicles, the dealership’s stock of Bugatti, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Cadillac, BMW, MINI, Hyundai and Kia automobiles.

The garage will be fully concealed from the street by architectural screening.

On the level above the showroom, Braman’s attorneys said, murals designed by students sponsored by the Young Arts group will be hung. Those will be changed periodically.

Thursday’s vote by the planning board is final unless someone appeals the decision. In that case, it would move to the city commission.

Miami Herald staff writer Andres Viglucci contributed to this report.

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