Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Developer to hold off on plans for 50-story tower on Miami Beach

A proposal to build what could be Miami Beach’s tallest building has been put on hold.

Developer Russell Galbut said he is reconsidering the 50-story tower he recently proposed for Alton Road north of Fifth Street, in light of the city’s intention to create a master plan for the area.

In a recent email to a South Beach homeowner’s group, Galbut wrote: "Due to the possibility of Alton Road being master planned in the near future, we have decided to follow this process before we make a final decision on whether to develop the site in accordance with our existing entitlements, pursuing the presently advertised project, coming back with a modified version, or perhaps building nothing at all at this time.”

He confirmed his intentions in an email to the Miami Herald on Thursday.

Only weeks ago, Galbut, in partnership with Related Group, had proposed the tower at the foot of the MacArthur Causeway, a main entrance to the city. The site, which spans the 500 - 700 blocks of Alton Road, now houses a dilapidated old hospital and parking garage. Residents say the area needs improvement since it’s the first thing many visitors see when entering Miami Beach.

Galbut had proposed building condos starting at $2 million, a six-story waterfall and a three-acre public park. He unveiled the proposal with dazzling renderings and a massive model at a series of public meetings — but without much prior consultation with City Hall, officials there have said.

The proposal quickly met backlash from the city’s new mayor, Philip Levine. On Thursday, Levine said the proposal was “completely out of whack with our zoning, as well as, I believe, not in the best interest of the residents.”

The maximum building height allowed where the tower was proposed is only 75 feet. And a recent opinion by the city attorney determined that a public referendum would be needed in order for Galbut to build his tower, or the city would have to agree to give up at least one public street that divides the development site.

Meanwhile, Miami Beach has moved forward on master plans for key areas of the city, among them: Lincoln Road, North Beach and Alton Road.

Levine said he’d like to see some green space and local, small businesses along Alton Road, where many locals do their shopping. He also pointed to a need for office space if the city wants to attract start-up companies.

“I just don’t believe we need big boxes and major skyscrapers. That’s just the wrong way to go,” Levine said.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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