the standard ready to move forward with plans

Venetian Islands

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

the standard ready to move forward with plans:

owners believe they have addressed neighbors' concerns

Representatives of The Standard Hotel on Belle Isle believe they have satisfied the concerns of their neighbors with regard to a planned renovation and are ready to move forward with the Miami Beach City Commission and land use board approval process. Two dozen area residents turned out for a meeting last night to discuss final plans and the timeline for construction.
 
Monika Entin, attorney for hotel owners Ferrado Lido, explained the challenges of getting to this point. The Standard was built in 1953 when hotel use was allowed on the island. Following a downzoning in the mid-90s to ensure taller buildings were not built, The Standard with its hotel license became a legal non-conforming use. In order to allow demolition and reconstruction of the east wing, an amendment is needed to the City code. The Standard created a very narrow definition in its proposed amendment so that it would only apply to their particular situation and not create loopholes for others to exploit. The amendment would allow the hotel to demolish and rebuild 50% of the building with the exact same uses, number of hotel units and restaurant seats. They will need to comply with the code, which means the hotel rooms will have to be larger. The old code allowed the smaller rooms that are there now. In order to create resiliency for sea level rise, improve the parking and traffic situation in the neighborhood, and comply with Miami Beach building codes, the new building will be three stories versus the current one story structure. Entin emphasized, however, that the new structure would not be taller than the main building in front. “While not historic, the building is iconic,” she said. “[Miami Beach] City staff was clear they did not want anything to overpower the front building.”
 
Architect Rene Gonzalez presented an overview of the design and answered questions. He said the new building takes resiliency into account. Rooms are now 3 to 3½ feet below current flood elevation while the new rooms will be built on top of the parking garage and thus not subject to flooding.
 
With regard to the garage, he said its exterior wall is closer to Farrey Lane than the current hotel (16 feet from the street versus the 30 foot distance from the hotel wall), but that the current parking stall is open to public view and the garage would be closed off and have significant mature landscaping to buffer it from the single family homes that line the street. The two upper stories would be set back to where the existing wing sits now.
 
Gonzalez said the main building in front is 48 feet 10 inches tall while the new wing will sit 9-10 feet below that and as such will not impact views from buildings across Island Avenue. With the setbacks on the two stories in the new wing and the landscaping on the side, Gonzalez said they were trying to minimize the impact on neighbors – and make it better. “It is a tropical building and it needs to feel part of the tropical environment,” he said. Scott Diffenderfer, President of the Belle Isle Residents Association, reminded the group that current code allows for a 50-foot box structure if the hotel were to go away and be replaced with condos.
 
Entin says they have worked to resolve the neighborhood’s concerns. The specific code amendment language was in keeping with residents’ desire to have the hotel continue as a legal non-conforming use. She said the community appreciates The Standard as an amenity but wanted to ensure the property could not be demolished and used for something else. In addition to keeping with the preferred legal definition, The Standard has presented a design with a similar footprint but which complies with current code.
 
Another benefit, she told the group, is that the parking garage will eliminate the current issue of “cars stacking up all the way to Sunset Harbour” while waiting for valet parking as well as the traffic caused by the valet taking cars back into Sunset Harbour to park them in the garage there. The new 76 on-site spaces will serve hotel guests as well as day spa clients.
 
Entin anticipates seeking Commission and Planning Board approval for the code amendment within the next two months. The project would also need Design Review Board approval. Construction is expected to take approximately 18 months and begin early next year, if approved. In response to concerns about construction traffic and noise, Entin said the hotel will remain open during construction so it is in their best interest to keep disruption to a minimum. She anticipates local bridge construction will be complete by the time construction begins on The Standard. Construction workers will park in the Purdy Avenue garage with shuttles onto the property to reduce vehicle traffic in the area and there will be limited hours (outside of rush hour) for heavy equipment such as cement trucks to keep traffic flowing.
 
The one challenge to Entin was with regard to the current traffic pattern for getting in and out of the semi-circle in front of the hotel. Diffenderfer pressed Entin to initiate conversations with the City to come up with safer options for coming and going from the property. Entin said she believed only an effort that included the community would be successful and offered The Standard’s traffic expert to create some options for discussion.
 
There are 105 rooms total at the hotel, 41 in the east building slated for demolition and reconstruction. There will be no changes to the restaurant. The Standard is located at 40 Island Avenue.
 
See our article discussing the challenges of renovating older buildings in Miami Beach that are also legal non-conforming (meaning they could not be built today). 

The Standard gets design approval

Venetian Islands


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
code amendment needed for construction to begin