Miami Beach

Developer wants to build higher, preserve facades in Miami Beach historic district

A developer is asking Miami Beach city commissioners for a height increase so he can redevelop a block of Ocean Terrace in North Beach.
A developer is asking Miami Beach city commissioners for a height increase so he can redevelop a block of Ocean Terrace in North Beach. Miami Herald File

It’s round two for tired old Ocean Terrace, a two-block stretch of beachside buildings along the north shore of Miami Beach that residents want to see rejuvenated.

After Claro Development’s Sandor Scher unsuccessfully campaigned for an increase in the scale of allowable development — a measure that failed to garner the majority vote it needed to pass in November — he’s back with a new approach for redeveloping the north block of the area that’s home to a group of protected historic buildings. His new plan would salvage a portion of those buildings.

There’s little disagreement that the pocket of late-era Art Deco and Miami Modern gems needs help after falling into disrepair over the years. The debate has revolved around how to make that happen without destroying the neighborhood’s scale and character.

Now Scher is again asking the Miami Beach City Commission for a height increase that would allow for a 235-foot residential tower, down from limit of 250 feet he got last year before the referendum. But this time he will not ask for more floor-area ratio, or an increase in a measure of the project’s scale that voters rejected. He’s also asking for a longer setback for the residential tower.

Scher is again pledging to maintain the Ocean Surf Hotel and the former Broadmoor by the Sea Hotel, which is now a Days Inn. Under the old plan, he wanted to demolish 11 historic structures for a new mixed-use hotel/condo complex. Now the developer wants to only partially tear down the old buildings, retaining their facades along Ocean Terrace and Collins Avenue and incorporating them into the new construction .

The city commission is scheduled to consider the height increase on May 11. In preparation, Scher is hosting a community meeting about his new plan at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Centro Unidad, next to the North Beach Bandshell at 7231 Collins Ave.

After attending several public events amid the development of a master plan for North Beach, Scher brought in Cesar Garcia-Pons, an associate principal at architecture firm Perkins+Will, and Richard Heisenbottle, an architect known for specializing in historic preservation, to form a new team to tackle Ocean Terrace. The developer has also met with several members of the community individually to discuss his concept.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech