Two residents of Miami’s historic Buena Vista East neighborhood have appealed the city’s approval of the Institute of Contemporary Art’s new home in the Design District, but an attorney for the museum says the legal action won’t delay construction.
Wendy Stephan and Basil Binns II appealed a decision by the city commission in June to grant a zoning and land-use change to five parcels owned by the museum in order to build a 37,500-square-foot home along Northeast 41st Street next to the de la Cruz art collection, with a 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden in the rear.
In their complaint, filed July 31 by attorney Paul Savage, Binns and Stephan argue that the city’s approval constituted spot zoning, and that commissioners ignored their own laws requiring that parcels meet a minimum size in order to be rezoned. In this case, they say the museum’s property didn’t meet the threshold, and they’re asking the court to force the city to follow its own laws.
City attorneys and planners denied those allegations during public hearings. And Stephen Helfman, an attorney for the museum, said Thursday that he’s confident the city and museum will prevail. He called the complaint a “highly technical misinterpretation” of Miami’s laws, and said the museum has already torn down three homes on land where the project is to be built.
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“The ICA is moving ahead. They're not going to delay the project,” he said. “They've actually begun the work at the site. The houses have been demolished and the permitting is ongoing. We're hopeful the litigation gets resolved before we need to start construction.”