Coral Gables

Coral Gables residents file lawsuit against city, developer over Paseo project

A rendering of the proposed Paseo de la Riviera project as seen from Jaycee Park in Coral Gables.
A rendering of the proposed Paseo de la Riviera project as seen from Jaycee Park in Coral Gables. NP International

The conversation over the controversial Paseo de la Riviera project is headed from Coral Gables City Hall to the courts.

Two residents, Stuart Rich and Ira Silver, filed a lawsuit March 3 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the city and the mixed-use project’s developer, seeking a declaration that the four items the City Commission approved for the project last December are void and inconsistent with the Coral Gables comprehensive plan.

“The result is an out-of-scale development with increased traffic, parking, noise, and odors with decreased safety and privacy and other adverse impacts on the surrounding neighbors,” the complaint reads.

The Riviera Neighborhood Association and other neighbors are opposed to the mixed-use project that’s set to replace the existing Holiday Inn on U.S. 1 at 1350 S. Dixie Hwy. The project was approved after months of heated discussion in and out of City Commission chambers. It includes an apartment building and hotel, along with commercial and open spaces.

City Attorney Craig Leen said the commissioners followed the law and based their decision on the evidence presented at the meeting.

“My office plans to vigorously defend the City Commission’s decision,” Leen said.

The City Commission approved a land-use map change, from low-rise intensity to mixed-use development, and a zoning amendment removing site specific regulations only for the Paseo project, a planned area development ordinance, which included specific regulations and restrictions for the project, and a mixed-use site plan resolution, which created a mixed-use district.

Additionally, Rich, Silver and resident Antonio Friguls filed a petition with the circuit court’s appellate division to rescind the commission’s approval of the mixed-use site plan and planned area development items.

The plaintiffs argue that the items are not only inconsistent with the comprehensive plan but were also approved without a chance for public comment. The vote was taken at a special meeting on Dec. 11 after a previous vote was deferred following a lengthy Dec. 8 commission meeting.

Between the two meetings, the proposed plans for the project changed and included a reduction in the apartment building’s height from early proposals of more than 150 feet to 112 feet, and a decrease in the hotel building’s height from a previous proposal of 142 feet to 126 feet.

Additionally, some changes were made to the project’s setbacks and the layout overlooking the Riviera neighborhood. The plaintiffs also argue that the approval of a shared parking proposal was done without a chance for public evaluation.

“The city commission failed to provide petitioners and other aggrieved parties due process when it closed the public hearing and then considered new evidence that served as the basis of the approvals,” the petition reads.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3