The Miami Beach Planning Board gave its approval for a proposed six-story mixed-use building on three parcels in the 2300 block of Collins Avenue. The lots are currently used as a surface parking lot and an Avis Rent-A-Car facility. The property owner, North Bay Owner, LLC, is 100% owned by Barry Sternlicht whose Starwood Capital Group is developing the project.
Attorney Carter McDowell told the Board, “This is a project that is, candidly, unique on Miami Beach. It is intended to be a truly Class A office building on Miami Beach. There are no true Class A office buildings on Miami Beach today.”
Calling it “an important step for our community,” he said the project would provide “high-end employment” for those who want to “live, work, play on Miami Beach.”
“Almost everybody who occupies Class A office space commutes to downtown, to Brickell, across the causeways back and forth,” McDowell said. “That would no longer be necessary for a portion of the population that would be able to live and work on Miami Beach” as a result of this project. "We hope that this building will encourage people to live on Miami Beach and work on Miami Beach and take some of the pressure off of the causeways.” He added the project places an emphasis on alternative modes of transportation with 167 spaces for bikes and scooters.
Initially McDowell was reluctant to say there were any tenants lined up but he finally acknowledged that “LNR is likely to be a tenant.” Though “not committed yet,” he said, “They’re already on the Beach and a lot of their employees are on the Beach.”
Starwood owns LNR Partners and its combined staff is currently housed at 1601 Washington Avenue. Earlier this year published reports quoted an internal memo stating Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group planned to develop a new headquarters in Miami Beach in anticipation of the lease expiring on their current Washington Avenue space in 2021. Throughout the presentation, McDowell repeated the need for urgency. “We have a real time issue here, we need to get this building underway,” he said at one point before he named LNR.
Planning Board member Daniel Veitia thanked the applicants for proposing office use. “The office use is going to provide jobs. It’s going to provide activation. It’s not going to intensify the commercialization at night which is already a hardship in this area. Thank you for this type of project and not residential,” he said.
Fellow Board member David Weider was on a different page. “We’re talking about an office building. This entire conversation has been about the inherent difficulties of an office building in this location,” he said after much back and forth over loading zones. “You’re a block away from the ocean. You’re talking about people, hundreds of people, coming here to work every day from South Dade, from wherever they live. They’re not necessarily going to live in this neighborhood. You’re talking about congestion. You’re talking about an office project that shouldn’t be here in this location, period. I’m against this project in its entirety. This location. If it were on Alton Road, maybe. Maybe. But not a block from the beach. This is a resort, this is not Brickell avenue. This is a resort.”
Veitia said, “A resort hotel would probably have a greater impact than the stabilization of a consistent office use that’s more likely going to bring a high-end tenant.”
The project will seek LEED Platinum certification and will include a green roof and a green wall on the north side of the building.
There is 9,000 sq ft of accessory retail planned. McDowell said, “We are hoping for food service. We would love to have a gourmet market, that’s high on our priority list to try to fill in those services that both our office tenants and the neighborhood would like to have.”
The Board voted 6-1 in favor of the project. Weider opposed it.
Next stop, the Historic Preservation Board on December 11.
2340 Collins Ave Project Receives Planning Board Approval:
Likely to be headquarters for Starwood Capital
Bids for Phase III more than double budgeted amount
Temporary measures to improve traffic flow during construction lull
Changes to bid process reap rewards
Unpermitted work, noncompliant seawall will require some rebuilding
Chagrined development team promises full restoration
$275 million project includes state of the art facilities
Area from 53rd to 64th streets is now open