Miami Beach City Commissioner Ricky Arriola has withdrawn his sponsorship of a proposed zoning change that would have allowed AIMCO, the real estate investment trust that owns the Flamingo Point multi-family community on Bay Road, to build a new 300-foot luxury tower on a narrow piece of land on the north side of the property. The current height limit there is 140 feet.
Arriola did not have an issue with this particular project but became frustrated with what he perceived as too much of the burden for legislation falling on his shoulders. As a result, he has pulled nearly all of his sponsorships.
“At one of our most recent Commission meetings in June, I had 17 items on the agenda. Some commissioners had zero,” Arriola said.
“I’ll try to stick to items I have previously committed to, but for the most part, I am done doing the heavy lifting of studying the issues, crafting legislation, shepherding them through the various advisory committees, doing community outreach, meeting with staff/HOAs/consultants etc. only to be nitpicked to death or tanked by my colleagues at the 11th hour simply because a small handful of people speak up at the last minute in opposition of an item.”
“I stick my neck out to get things done for this City, particularly the hard ones and I am happy to take all the arrows and challenges but not when I am doing it alone and certain colleagues just back bench to see which way the wind blows,” Arriola explained.
Without his support, Arriola said, “I suspect we will see new development crawl to a halt. The Flamingo tower project is an illustrative example. I doubt it will find a single sponsor willing to stick their neck out.”
The item had been referred to the Land Use and Sustainability Committee and was on the July 21 agenda. A new Commission sponsor did not come forward by the meeting date so the item was deemed withdrawn and concluded.
Flamingo Point currently has approximately 100,000 sq ft of buildable floor area which attorney Michael Larkin of Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin & Tapanes noted in a letter to the City’s Planning Department “under current regulations can only be distributed horizontally throughout the long and narrow lot.”
In contrast, he wrote, “The long and wide footprints of such buildings eliminate permeable area, which works against the City’s efforts to increase green space and permeability, while also obstructing views,” Larkin wrote.
A 24-story, narrow building, Larkin said, would increase green and permeable space “and reduce stress on the City’s stormwater infrastructure” while staying in context with surrounding buildings which range from 26 to 36 stories.
AIMCO did not respond to a request for comment on any future plans.
UPDATE: AIMCO provided this statement with attorney Michael Larkin on Monday, July 27:
“As you know, Commissioner Arriola withdrew as sponsor from multiple legislative proposals that he had agreed to sponsor immediately before the June Land Use Committee meeting, including ours. We will likely file a private application and bring the legislation to the Mayor and City Commission in the fall of this year. This proposed building will be built using the already existing surplus floor area within the property. Our proposed legislation requests an increase in height, a slight decrease in setbacks, and a revision to the liner requirement. Collectively, these requested changes will allow the construction of a taller more elegant building with breathtaking views of the bay and larger units. As the regulations are worded now, only a short and squat building could be constructed with smaller units that would have a far greater impact upon our residential neighbors to the north.”
Rendering: Stantec Architecture
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