You can eat and drink on Lincoln Road, shop on Lincoln Road — and soon you may be able to sleep on Lincoln Road, too.
The Miami Beach City Commission is considering an ordinance that would allow for taller buildings and smaller room sizes along a five-block stretch of the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare to accommodate the first hotels on Lincoln Road in recent memory. Three Lincoln Road property owners are already interested in adding hotels to their buildings.
The ordinance is likely to pass in October, but lawmakers are split on whether to limit the number of hotel rooms allowed on the street, or to open the development floodgates on a street that is already preparing for a $67 million makeover.
Lincoln Road is home to a mix of chain retail and local favorites including Books & Books. The street attracts about 11 million visitors a year. In this year’s survey of Miami Beach residents, 85 percent said they visit Lincoln Road at least once a month and 25 percent said they visit more than once per week. There’s a farmer’s market on weekends, and a Fernando Botero exhibit is on its way.
Most notable for potential hoteliers is Lincoln Road’s proximity to the brand new, 1.43-million-square-foot convention center, which sits just three blocks north. Last year residents approved the development of an 800-room convention center hotel. David Martin, a developer working on the convention center hotel project, did not respond to a request for comment about the estimated completion date.
Even with the future added hotel rooms, the vice president of the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District Lyle Stern said more are welcome.
“As the convention center gets ramped up, and as the new hotel gets delivered, there will be a need for hotels that are easy walking distance from the center,” he said.
The Lincoln Road BID gave its stamp of approval to the hotel ordinance, which would accommodate two hotels that are already in the works: a 140-room hotel at the Sterling Building at 927 Lincoln Road, owned by Sam Herzberg, and a 134-room hotel at the Lincoln Center building at 690 Lincoln Road, owned by Melvyn Schlesser. The city would give the owners breaks on parking requirements, permission to build rooftop additions, allow them to build to 75 feet and 50 feet, respectively, and shrink the minimum room size requirement to 200 and 250 square feet, respectively. Designs for both hotels will have to gain approval from the city’s design review board.
Herzberg said the new hotel will be a “big asset to Lincoln Road.”
“We’re trying to bring something special,” he said. “We think the hotel will do really, really well there.”
Miami architect Kobi Karp is designing the Sterling Building hotel. Design renderings show the hotel will have a large, open courtyard in the front. A pedestrian breezeway will connect Lincoln Road to adjacent Lincoln Lane.
“I think the addition of hotels on Lincoln Road is in line with the natural evolution of the area,” Karp said. “This seems like the natural extension of an evolving, thriving and bustling area.”
In exchange for the parking and space accommodations, the ordinance would require the hotels to either designate 500 square feet of ground floor space for arts and culture or pay 1.5% of the total construction cost of the hotel to a fund for public art on Lincoln Road. City Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán favors requiring the space instead of the payment.
“To me there is something much more impactful to actually providing the cultural component on Lincoln Road,” she said at a September 11 commission meeting.
A third property owner who wants in on the hotel business is urging the commission to amend the ordinance to extend another block east to Drexel Avenue. so that the building that houses the Rosinella Italian eatery at 525 Lincoln Road is included. Wayne Pathman, an attorney for the owner, said the owner is looking to build a boutique hotel with 10 to 12 rooms.
“Having a boutique hotel on Lincoln Road would be the complement to the convention center,” Pathman said. “That’s why you’re seeing more interest, proximity to the convention center. There’s never enough convention hotel rooms.”
A nearby hotel at 1212 Lincoln Road — outside of the pedestrian zone — is already under construction. The 168-room hotel will be part of the Netherlands-based CitizenM hotel chain when it is finished. Farther away, nearly two-thirds of new hotels in 2019 are opening off the Beach on Miami’s mainland from the airport to Aventura, according to a July analysis from STR, a hospitality data firm.
The level of interest among Lincoln Road property owners means more could seek to build hotels on the street, adding to anticipated construction for a Lincoln Road renovation project that is years in the making. Set to begin next year, the $67 million renovation will include drainage upgrades, security bollards, more public seating and green space.
Commissioners voted in favor of advancing the hotel ordinance in September and will consider it fully in October. Most cited increased foot traffic as a major benefit. Commissioner Mark Samuelian recalled a pedestrian street in Barcelona, Spain — La Rambla — that has hotels.
“I think this is a concept that other great cities have had,” he said.
But commissioners are also cautious about unintended consequences hotels may bring to the crowded street.
“Essentially we are changing Lincoln Road and maybe that’s a good thing, or maybe it’s not a good thing,” said City Commissioner Michael Góngora. “We won’t know if it’s a good thing until it happens.”