Aventura - Sunny Isles

July 21, 2014

Publix withdraws plans for condo development in Sunny Isles Beach

Publix’s withdrawal of a proposed condo development from its plans to build a new grocery store quelled some concerns among Sunny Isles Beach residents.

In the face of strong opposition from Sunny Isles Beach residents, Publix officials decided to withdraw their proposed condo development — for now — to move forward with building a new supermarket on Collins Avenue.

Residents packed the City Commission meeting last Friday to voice their concern about a proposed 26-story condo development being built alongside a new Publix at 18330 Collins Ave.

The supermarket chain initially submitted a proposal to the city requesting to demolish and rebuild the Publix that has been at the same location for 32 years. During a second phase of development, Publix sought to build a 357-unit residential building.

At last night’s meeting, Publix attorney Clifford Schulman told the commission the supermarket chain was withdrawing its residential application for the second phase of the project that was the condominium development.

Publix plans to build a 53,558-square-foot retail shopping center with a two-floor parking garage on top.

W. Tucker Gibbs, an attorney for developer Gil Dezer, who has neighboring properties, said the original project was “too big for the city.” Gibbs asked the commission for a deferral until Publix presented a new comprehensive site plan with the changes.

“It is peeling things off verbally,” said Gibbs of the site plan changes. “You want to see what you are voting for.”

Commissioner Jeanette Gatto agreed that the original project of a condo and supermarket would be “chaotic” and a “danger to school children” with the increased traffic. The Norman Edelcup Sunny Isles Beach K-8 is located across the street at 201 182nd Dr. She also stated that she would like to see a revised site plan before voting.

Gibbs also said that the Publix project, which has 240 parking spaces, didn’t meet the city’s parking requirement. City Manager Chris Russo said the Publix development met the city’s requirement of 210 spaces.

Mayor Norman Edelcup said that he wouldn’t approve the Publix project until a 50-foot public right of way was extended alongside the supermarket, which would have been built in the second phase of the plan that was withdrawn. Schulman agreed to add the roadway to the project.

Commissioner Jennifer Levin was concerned about minors possibly entering a proposed wine and spirits shop selling hard liquor inside the Publix with its own side entrance. Schulman said that no unaccompanied minors would be allowed through the side entrance and the site plan would be amended so that only beer and wine would be sold.

The withdrawal of the condo development from the proposal took a lot of steam out of residents, with some who signed up to speak declining once the meeting opened up from comments.

Those who did speak were very concerned about how residents without vehicles, especially senior citizens, would purchase groceries. The current Publix would be torn down to begin construction of the new store, which is scheduled to be complete in 11 months. The nearest Publix is in neighboring Aventura.

“Basically, a full year of not having a grocery store for all the people who need to go food shopping is a concern,” said Rabbi Chay Amar of Chabad of Golden Beach, who said he had a list of 88 families who would be affected. “I am concerned for all of these families. How will they manage?”

Edelcup said that a city shuttle bus would be put in place that would travel to and from the Publix store in Aventura.

Resident Lewis Thaler mentioned that when Publix initially had discussed building a new store several years ago, the store had agreed to pay for the costs of the shuttle bus.

“Publix should help the city to get people to Aventura,” Thaler said.

Edelcup said that Russo would speak with Publix about financing transportation.

Sandra Rosen, a teacher at the Edelcup school, said that she was concerned about how the traveling of construction trucks would affect children arriving at school.

“It’s backed up on Collins Avenue before and after school,” Rosen said. “I am concerned about how much worse it will be.”

The City Commission unanimously approved the building of the new Publix store with the following conditions: the withdrawal of the condo project; a 50-foot extension of the road alongside the new Publix; the sale of beer and wine only at its liquor store; the submission of a revised site plan; and the agreement to all conditions by the city.

Gibbs later said that the withdrawal of the condo development proposal was just “kicking the can down the road” and expected Publix to revisit the proposal at a later date.

In other happenings, the commission:

Approved an ad valorem millage levy of 2.6000, which is lower than last year’s rate of 2.7000. Commissioner George Scholl noted this was the third consecutive year the city lowered the millage rate. This is expected to generate $18,967,769 compared to last year’s amount of $17,708,980. The Miami-Dade County property appraiser department assessed Sunny Isles Beach property values at $7.679 billion compared to $6.736 billion last year.

Approved a $175,000 agreement to settle a lawsuit with Temple B’Nai Zion. The temple would also receive 15,000 square feet in transfer development rights from the city. The temple agreed to maintain the historic designation for certain sections of the property.

Approved resolution to install a $1.2 million citywide security closed circuit television system in 10 city parks for round-the-clock coverage. Also approved was a resolution to purchase nearly 62,000 emergency traffic support trailers and equipment. Both projects will be federally funded.

Announced City Attorney Hans Ottinot’s appointment to the Florida Bar Board of Governors and the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

The next City Commission meeting is Sept. 18.

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