Miami Beach

Too soon for vote on another Miami Beach high-rise?

Rendering of the proposed two-tower development at the Miami Beach Marina.
Rendering of the proposed two-tower development at the Miami Beach Marina. Fort Partners

Developers who want to build a pair of 410-foot condo towers at the Miami Beach Marina — and sweeten the deal with a $100 million contribution to a city light rail system — have backed off from their plan to put three related measures before voters in November.

Michael Conaghan released a statement on behalf of Fort Partners Wednesday saying the company needs more time to gather input from the community and won’t seek to be on the November ballot.

But that doesn’t mean the company is giving up on the project.

“We continue to be very excited about the opportunity to redevelop the Miami Beach Marina — and to do so hand in hand with the South of Fifth Community and the city of Miami Beach,” he wrote.

The announcement came shortly after Commissioner Michael Grieco released an open letter saying, “Now is not the time for this project.” He said the project has some great selling points, but that “our neighborhood has both construction and traffic fatigue.”

Fort Partners wants to develop the waterfront land at the city-owned marina where Monty’s Sunset restaurant stands. Plans call for two 410-foot condo towers with a combined total of up to 250 residential units, 700 spaces of underground parking with a public park above, and a retail and restaurant complex at the base of one of the towers. The company would pay the city $100 million for air rights, with the money designated for city trolleys.

But in a city where voters have rejected two recent high-rise proposals, public support for the Fort Partners plan isn’t at all assured. Because the marina property is city-owned, development on the property must be approved by voters in three referendum questions.

The advantage of getting the measure on the November ballot is that the presidential election would almost certainly draw more voters than a ballot containing only city elective positions and referendums.

But Conaghan said the company wants to develop the project with plenty of community input. After conducting a “listening tour” for the last few months and a community meeting Tuesday night attended by almost 100 residents, Fort Partners needs more time to gather input and support, he said.

Just a week earlier, a city committee said it needs more community input before putting a different high-rise development question before voters in November. Supporters of a hotel at the Miami Beach Convention Center, whose plans were rejected by voters in March, had hoped to put a revised plan on the November ballot, when they thought higher turnout might give the project the edge it needs. But last week the committee said it wants a new traffic study and a survey to learn what changes could make the hotel more acceptable to residents.