A plan to redevelop the tiny pocket of Art Deco hotels fronting Miami Beach’s north shore got initial approval Wednesday from the City Commission.
With some modifications from city planners, the changes to development rules in Ocean Terrace passed in a 6-1 voter, with Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez dissenting.
Developer Sandor Scher, of Claro Development, has for more than a year wanted to redevelop the block between 74th and 75th streets between Collins Avenue and Ocean Terrace. After a failed attempt to convince voters to approve increasing the maximum allowable scale of the development on the block, Scher assembled a new team to propose a new approach.
He still wants a height increase for a residential tower, from a 75-foot maximum to 235 feet. He is promising to preserve and restore facades of historic hotels, and residents want to see this promise inked in an ordinance that would pave the way for the redevelopment.
Commissioner Joy Malakoff recommended Scher’s team meet with the city planning department to address specifics in the ordinance, including language that would compel the developer to keep the scale and character of the block intact from the perspective of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Along with keeping the character, she wants to see the retail and restaurants attracting people to the block.
“You drive by it today, you see dilapidated buildings. You see no life on the street,” Malakoff said.
While the historic preservation aspect a some residents are not comfortable with a possibility of a new similarly-sized tower near the Saint Tropez, a 270-foot condo on the south block of Ocean Terrace that was built before the creation of a local historic district in the late 1990s. Some felt that even though the vote in November was about increasing floor-area ratio, or maximum allowable square footage, the failed referendum was also a rejection of more height. Building height on Ocean Terrace is not subject to a referendum.
After Wednesday’s vote, Scher told reporters he was open to including protection of facades in the ordinance and making other adjustments while working with city planners.
“We’ll go through everything with the planning department, and as we’ve always done, work with the community,” he said. “We’ll take input and make modifications and changes accordingly. We’re very happy to do that.”
A final version of the ordinance will go before the commission June 8. Then Scher and his team will create designs. They epect to present the project to the Historic Preservation Board near the end of the year.