Miami Beach

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Miami Beach tentatively agrees to close part of Euclid Avenue

 

cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

A portion of Euclid Avenue may be closed to cars, essentially extending the pedestrian Lincoln Road Mall.

Commissioners approved the closure Wednesday in a preliminary vote. The measure needs to pass a second vote, currently scheduled for July, to become final.

Closing the street, which dead-ends at Lincoln Road, is expected to cost the city $486,000.

Developer Lincoln Center Associates, led by Mel Schlesser, would pay an estimated $100,000 toward “soft” costs such as construction manager fees associated with the project. The developer would also be responsible for some maintenance once the project is finished, including street-sweeping, trash pickups and landscape maintenance.

Schlesser’s company owns a parking lot adjacent to Euclid Avenue, according to a city memo.

City Commissioner Micky Steinberg questioned why the city has to foot the majority of the bill, but she voted in favor of the project anyway.

The proposal, first offered in 2012, is to close Euclid Avenue to cars between Lincoln Road and Lincoln Lane South. Euclid Avenue is three blocks west of the Lincoln Road Mall’s eastern end at Washington Avenue.

According to a city memo, the project includes:

• Removal of the planted area where Euclid Avenue intersects with Lincoln Road.

• Relocation of the electrical disconnect vault to the electrical vault in the Lincoln Center parking lot.

• New landscaping, as well as a new curb, sidewalk and roadway “with a new designed black and white concrete pattern and new planting areas.”

• A pedestrian drop-off area.

“The benefit to the city is tremendous,” Schlesser told commissioners. “It’s just an awful location” now.

The city says in a memo that the project will benefit the public by creating a commercial delivery and loading zone, providing another entrance to Lincoln Road and “creating more space for performances at the Euclid Oval.”

“I think this is a wonderful public-private partnership,” said Commissioner Joy Malakoff.

Malakoff added that she did not want outdoor restaurants to extend to the portion of the street that would be closed. City Attorney Raul Aguila said the city would need to change its rules to do that.

In other business Wednesday, the commission:

• Voted to ban bicycles from Lincoln Road Mall between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m.

Proposed by Commissioner Deede Weithorn, the rule was enacted in response to residents’ concerns about pedestrian safety.

• Voted to give Mount Sinai Medical Center a $15 million grant — $1 million a year for 15 years — to help the private, nonprofit hospital expand its emergency room.

The agreement includes changes commissioners had sought the last time it was publicly discussed.

For example, the agreement says Miami Beach will get 2,000 square feet of space to build an emergency operations center, as opposed to Mount Sinai’s original offer of 1,000 square feet.

The new agreement also exempts Miami Beach from paying interest on the money to be given to the hospital, provides public access to the bay from the hospital grounds, includes 700 free parking passes for senior citizens, and other provisions.

“I think it’s important for us, as a world-class city, to have a world-class hospital — and, more importantly, an emergency room,” Mayor Philip Levine told the Miami Herald.

• Approved a $490,000 settlement agreement stemming from a dispute with a contractor who completed capital improvements in the South of Fifth neighborhood.

Horizon Contractors was awarded a $9.5 million contract in 2008 to replace water lines to improve water pressure, install wells to drain storm water, lighting and landscape improvements, curbs to slow-down traffic, and other improvements, according to a city memo.

Horizon claimed the city owed money over permitting issues, testing of water pipes, extra time worked, and change orders stemming from the city reconfiguring part of the project.

The contractor originally claimed the city owed $1.7 million on the contract.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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