Angst Over 500 Alton Road Tower Height

West Ave

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Angst Over 500 Alton Road Tower Height:

Draft ordinance included 560 foot height reference

There was considerable angst this week when a draft ordinance to rezone the 500-600-700 blocks of Alton Road began circulating. The draft included reference to a height of 560 for a tower proposed for the 500 block—a surprise to those who read it—and no mention of a promised 3.2 acre park to be deeded to the City of Miami Beach.
The ordinance was part of a three-ordinance package that was to be referred by the Commission to the Planning Board, a required step in the process. Residents who had originally opposed the building of a tall tower on the 500 block compromised on a 44-story building along with a park to be deeded to the City that they insisted be as large as possible. The compromise agreement was for 3.2 acres. [The rendering above is a 42-story version of the proposed tower.]
None of the ordinances, including the one that was circulating, were attached to the published agenda item because “It was a draft and wasn’t finalized,” Chief Deputy City Attorney Eve Boutsis told Commissioners.
“There’s a height in there now that is a little different than what people thought,” Mayor Dan Gelber said. “Since it’s my item and my referral, I want to hear from the Land Use Committee and Planning Board what the height should be for the project and it has a pretty high height in there now which is not something I know I would even support but I want the Land Use Committee and our Planning Board, which I think are the appropriate entities, to let us know what they think the height should be. I want to make that very clear.”
Boutsis said the number would be removed from the final version that goes to the Planning Board. In response to a question from RE:MiamiBeach about where the 560 foot number came from, City Spokeswoman Veronica Paysse said it was suggested by the property owner, which is Crescent Heights.
Another area of concern for community members was a provision for a minimum of 40% green space (versus a 3.2 acre park). Paysse said that number is the minimum specified in the City’s code and the park would be included in “the more specific development agreement that would transfer title of the 3.2 acre park.”
A provision for the green space to be open to the public from 7 am to 9 pm also created concern that the developer was going to control the park and not turn it over but the hours referred “only to public easements on [the] property owner’s private development” in the 500 block," Paysse said. (Though we note that most City parks have restrictions that include closing after dark.)

Boutsis told RE:MiamibeBeach, the more specific development agreement will travel concurrently with the ordinances when they're up for Commission approval.
The ordinances are scheduled to be heard at the Commission’s Land Use and Development Committee meeting on September 28th. While Commissioners agreed to allow the item to be advertised for the October 23rd meeting of the Planning Board, they will not discuss a formal referral until their October 17th meeting when they hear the Land Use Committee's recommendations. Once they go through the Planning Board and Land Use process, the ordinances will go back to the Commission for two readings and public hearings.

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