Miami Beach

How Beach Towing and neighbors derailed the Sunset Harbour project

This rendering shows what Deco Capital Group’s mixed-use building in Sunset Harbour would have looked like. Deco Capital withdrew a request for a height increase after opposition from nearby Beach Towing and neighboring residents.
This rendering shows what Deco Capital Group’s mixed-use building in Sunset Harbour would have looked like. Deco Capital withdrew a request for a height increase after opposition from nearby Beach Towing and neighboring residents.

A developer who wanted a height increase for a development in a gentrifying South Beach neighborhood withdrew his request this week after months of tussling with nearby tow companies and neighbors.

A contentious battle surrounded the mixed-use development proposed by Deco Capital Group, led by managing principal Bradley Colmer. Colmer was asking City Hall to grant him a 40-foot height increase above the allowable 50 feet to build a retail-condo development on Purdy Avenue between 18th Street and Dade Boulevard. The neighborhood, Sunset Harbour, has evolved from an industrial area to a hip residential, retail and restaurant district.

The building would have had ground-floor retail, two levels of parking and 15 three-bedroom luxury condo units above.

While he got support from some residents, Colmer ran into problems when nearby Beach Towing and residents of the neighboring Lofts at South Beach Condominium objected. Over the course of the months-long brouhaha, the developer’s attorneys sent a 14-page legal memo arguing Beach Towing had been operating illegally for decades because of an alleged zoning violation. The argument went nowhere with the city.

Meanwhile, Mayor Philip Levine recused himself after ethics questions were raised because he owns nearby property that could benefit from increased land value.

After several requests by commissioners to find a solution that would satisfy all parties, three mediation sessions led to no resolution.

“In light of that, we felt the appropriate way forward was to respectfully withdraw our application and move to build a project by-right,” Colmer wrote in an email to commissioners Tuesday.

The Miami New Times first reported the developer’s withdrawal Wednesday.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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