Developers are planning to build what could be Miami Beach’s tallest building on the city’s front doorstep — beside the Alton Road flyover at the end of the MacArthur Causeway.
Designed by international architecture firm Perkins + Will, the residential tower would rise 50 stories at the foot of the flyover. A six-story waterfall and three-acre public park would take the place of a dilapidated hospital and parking garage that now greet the millions of visitors streaming into South Beach from the MacArthur.
With only four units per floor, the condos would go for $2 million, with penthouses running in the $10 million range, according to Matthew J. Allen, executive vice president of the Related Group., which would develop the project in cooperation with Crescent Heights.
The new proposal would consolidate all the development rights into the southwest corner of the property, said Crescent Heights managing principal Russell Galbut. For the project to get city approval, commissioners would have to recommend to change a city ordinance limiting height in the area. Now, 75 feet is the maximum height allowed.
If the City Commission is interested, city staff would have to come up with a new proposed ordinance, which the commission would have to vote on twice. Then, the city’s Planning and Design Review Boards would have to approve the plans.
Team members on the project held a series of public meetings on Tuesday to encourage residents to support the project as it moves through the approval process at City Hall.
“At this point, what we’re looking for is support for the big idea,” said Jose Gelabert-Navia, a designer with Perkins + Will.
The one word Galbut consistently uses to describe the development: iconic. Galbut said he and development partner Jorge Peréz, CEO of Related, are looking to leave their mark on the city.
“This is legacy to Jorge and me,” Galbut said. “It’s the largest accumulated piece of land in South Beach.”
He wouldn’t specify just how tall the glass tower would be — saying it would stand under 600 feet.
According to Emporis, an international provider of building data, the Blue and Green Diamond condos in Mid Beach are the tallest in the city. They reach 44 stories, or about 560 feet. The Akoya, the second-tallest building, stands at 47 stories and 492 feet.
Galbut had previously won city approval for an about 450-unit residential and commercial project along Alton Road. Its tallest point reached about 10 stories and the development stretched from the 500 to the 700 block.
Gelabert-Navia, a designer on the latest iteration of the project, said developers “lost faith” in the previous proposal. Galbut even tried to sell the property at one point.
“At the end of the day, every neighbor who I spoke to wasn’t happy with the project,” Gelabert-Navia said.
The team hopes a public park feature will help win over neighbors and city leaders. The sloping park would span five acres, including three acres accessible to the public. Designed by Miami Beach design firm Urban Robot Associates, it would feature a 40-foot-deep reservoir that would flow in streams down to a shallow lake.
The water features would help alleviate flooding by collecting “millions and millions” of gallons of stormwater, said Justine Velez, a principal of Urban Robot. The water would be naturally filtered by plants and discharged into the bay, if needed, Velez said.
A public promenade shaded by flowering trees would border the lake, which would feature a raised walkway across. It would be surrounded by examples of different native Florida ecosystems.
Gelabert-Navia said the building’s location would actually preserve the views from neighboring buildings, including the Icon and the Bentley.
John Stimmel, president of the Icon South Beach condo association, isn’t convinced. He said residents bought units in the building with the understanding that Galbut’s lot wasn’t zoned for extreme height. Stimmel said he’s counting on the new mayor and commission to consider the impact on neighbors.
“I don’t think there’s any chance that the view corridors could be preserved,” Stimmel said. “We need a lot more information on this and I just hope that — we changed the government here —and I hope that they’re receptive to not being taken over by the developers.”
But Kip Dugal, a property manager at the nearby Floridian condo, said residents in that building “would do anything to get rid of what’s there.”
“That old hospital and run-down garage have been an eyesore,” Dugal said.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine sent out a press release on Tuesday noting that Galbut’s property doesn’t currently have the zoning needed for a 50-story tower.
Levine said Tuesday night that it was premature for him to take a position on the project because it would require dramatic regulatory changes before it could happen.
“This is a massive change that would require massive public input,” he said. “This is something the community would have to decide.”
The Miami Beach Land Use and Development commission committee is expected to discuss the proposal at a meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday in City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive.