Miami Beach Voters Reject Proposal to Redevelop Marina

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Voters Reject Proposal to Redevelop Marina:

Wolfsonian-FIU Expansion Plans approved

Miami Beach voters rejected a proposal to redevelop the Miami Beach Marina but approved expansion plans for the Wolfsonian-FIU museum. Two other ballot questions allowing increases in FAR (floor area ratio or density) one to incentivize restoration of historic buildings and another to incentivize bicycle parking and help property owners meet new building and life safety codes without giving up usable FAR also passed.

On the question of whether to sell the air rights to the Miami Beach Marina building at 300 Alton Road to developer David Martin who wanted to build a 385-ft tall luxury residential building there, voters said no by a margin of 768 votes. (Concept rendering of the proposed building above.) Although voters approved Martin’s proposal for a long-term lease to operate and upgrade the marina, the defeat of the air rights sale means the development project is moot as the two were tied together. Voters approved another ballot question directing how the $55 million from the sale of the air rights would be spent even while voting down the actual sale.

Martin previously signed a development agreement with the City laying out financial terms of the project and public benefits including a 1.0-acre park and resiliency improvements but it was dependent on voter approval as required by City Code for the sale of any government-owned property and for long-term leases. 

Mayor Dan Gelber who supported the marina questions along with the six members of the City Commission said, "Along with our Commission, I believed we had a real opportunity to renegotiate a terrible Marina lease that was crafted in the 1980’s when the City was desperate to attract development in South Beach. The idea of upgrading the marina and getting a park and a big increase in rental payments was worth real consideration. But without the signal of clear public support to redo the lease and upgrade the marina, it will have to wait until 2052 to be revisited." The current marina lease expires in 2052 but would have been replaced with the agreement with Martin who had partnered with the current operator, Suntex.

Opponents argued the value of the air rights is more than negotiated by the City and they objected to an agreement being made without a competitive bid process.

Sale of Air Rights (question 2)

48.88% Yes
51.12% No

[Question 1 would have allocated the proceeds from the sale, if approved, to certain buckets.]

Long-term lease of the marina (question 3)

52.35% Yes
47.65% No

More details on the three ballot questions here.


Wolfsonian Expansion (Question 5)

63.64% Yes
36.36% No

The Wolfsonian-FIU is proposing a renovation and 25,0000 sq. ft. expansion of its existing museum on Washington Avenue and sought an increase in FAR through the establishment of a Wolfsonian Arts District. (See our story with renderings here.) 

Because the museum is at its maximum FAR on the property, voter approval was required. The additional FAR will allow the museum to increase the number of collections on view at any one time, develop a new lobby and street presence and state-of-the-art classrooms, studios, and a digital lab.

Specifically, the approved ordinance increases the FAR from 1.5 to a maximum of 3.25 and limits the maximum height to 75 feet for properties within the Wolfsonian Arts District located at the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and 10th Street.

The final design requires Historic Preservation Board approval.

More details on the question here.

Concept rendering: Zyscovich Architects

Reconstruction of original floor plates within interior of historic buildings (Question 4)

66.75% Yes
33.25% No

This question authorizes the reconstruction of original interior floor plates as part of the restoration of historic buildings, if those floor plates were removed prior to June 4, 1997. The intent is to incentivize the restoration of historic buildings through the use of FAR. 

With the approval, City Commissioners can now move an ordinance that gives the Historic Preservation Board the ability to approve the reconstruction of original, interior floor plates as part of the restoration of historic buildings that otherwise have no available FAR (if the floor plates were removed prior to June 4, 1997). Currently, that option is not available when a property owner restores their building.

More details on the question here.

Ordinance excluding certain areas of a building from calculation of “floor area” (Question 6)

60.50% Yes
39.50% No

This question asked if the City should adopt an ordinance excluding the following areas from the calculation of a building’s floor area: 
  • Secured bicycle parking spaces, 
  • Stairwells / elevators located above main roof decks, 
  • Electrical transformer vault rooms, and 
  • Fire control rooms / related life-safety equipment. 

By including those areas, as is currently City law, there is less “habitable” space in a building. By excluding them, there is greater floor space for residential or commercial space. Of course, it also means a building would be bigger by the amount of space the above items occupy.  

The City’s Voters Guide stated “The purpose of this measure is to incentivize property owners to provide secured bicycle parking, and account for evolving City Code, Florida Building Code, and Life Safety Code requirements.”

For existing buildings, the City says, if approved, owners would be able to comply with new Code requirements when a building is being renovated, for example, even if the property currently exceeds the maximum permitted FAR. 

More details on the question here.

After the vote, Mayor Gelber said these amendments "will help promote smart development in our community. And the expansion of the Wolfsonian will be a real game changer for the City and go a long way to enhancing our cultural footprint."

For complete Miami-Dade County elections results, click here.

Miami Beach Short-Term Rental Fines Reduced Following Court Ruling

Susan Askew
Susan Askew
Fines now much lower, in line with State law

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales to Leave in February

Susan Askew
Susan Askew
Commission will discuss process for selecting replacement at its meeting this week