Miami Beach

Divisive Sunset Harbour project deferred again; Washington Avenue to get ‘parklets’

At Wednesday’s meeting, Miami Beach commissioners discussed a new retail-condo project in Sunset Harbour and a street beautification program on Washington Avenue.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Miami Beach commissioners discussed a new retail-condo project in Sunset Harbour and a street beautification program on Washington Avenue. Miami Herald File

The brouhaha over a proposed retail-condo project in a growing South Beach neighborhood has led to little progress between a developer and angry neighbors, leading city commissioners on Wednesday to defer the item for 30 more days in hopes of a compromise.

The bitter dispute in Sunset Harbour has dragged on with no resolution, much to the chagrin of commissioners who support and oppose the development. The City Commission also approved a pilot program to promote small “parklets,” or tiny plazas and green spaces, to replace some on-street parking spaces along Washington Avenue.

The main item

Deco Capital Group, led by managing principal Bradley Colmer, is asking the city for a 40-foot height increase from the allowable 50 feet to build a mixed-use building between 18th Street and Dade Boulevard. Residents in the neighboring Lofts at South Beach Condominium and nearby Beach Towing have objected to the project.

In early March, commissioners told all parties to take 60 days to figure out a way to make everyone happy. The situation went in the opposite direction, with the developer firing off a 14-page legal memo arguing Beach Towing had been operating illegally for decades because of an alleged zoning violation.

The city’s legal department will not comment on the memo, citing unresolved legal issues between Beach Towing and Deco Capital.

Beach Towing responded with its own memo, citing city codes to justify its right to operate. It also criticized the developer for taking jabs at the towing company instead of following the city’s instruction to work things out.

“The developer’s bad faith acts and willful disregard of the City Commission’s direction evidences their arrogance and contempt, not only for the City Commission, but also for neighboring property owners and residents,” reads the memo.

On Wednesday, commissioners chided both sides when the developer asked the elected body to send the project to the citizen planning board. Commissioners deferred the issue for another 30 days.

Other business

The city approved guidelines for a “parklet” program on Washington Avenue. The program aims to beautify the street by allowing property owners to apply to convert individual on-street parking spaces into small parks, plazas or creative public spaces.

“The parklet pilot program provides a path for our Washington Avenue businesses to take individual actions in the development and beautification of our city’s public realm,” Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said in a prepared statement. “It also reflects our commitment to encourage bicycle and pedestrian-friendly streets.”

They said it

“I don’t like that the developer has attacked the business of Beach Towing. Beach Towing is a responsible company that gives back to the community.” Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who said he was upset with both Deco Capital and Beach Towing in the Sunset Harbour spat.

You said it

“It is aesthetically beautiful.” Wendy Joseph-Rugg, Belle Isle resident who supports the Deco Capital project.

The next meeting

When: 5 p.m. May 18.

Where: 1700 Convention Center Dr.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech