Approval of additional oceanfront height opens door for new development

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Approval of additional oceanfront height opens door for new development:

Raleigh owner Michael Shvo expected to close on Richmond and South Seas properties this week, apply for residential tower

Miami Beach Commissioners this week paved the way for developer Michael Shvo to combine the iconic Raleigh hotel with the adjacent Richmond and South Seas hotels into one development site which then would allow him to build a residential tower behind the Richmond and South Seas. Shvo owns the Raleigh at 1775 Collins Avenue and is under contract to purchase the two neighboring hotels.
The zoning text amendment increases the allowable height for ground level additions from 50 to 200 feet on the oceanfront from 16th to 21st Streets. It only applies to properties with a minimum lot size of 115,000 square feet and includes restrictions on floorplate size and setbacks. 
Shvo told the Historic Preservation Board last month that if he were to only own the Raleigh, he would convert it to private residences but, if he’s able to build a new tower on the ocean, he will complete the purchase of the Richmond and South Seas and restore them to their original designs by removing some later additions. The new tower would be centered behind the Richmond and South Seas.
The Raleigh would be preserved and operated as a luxury hotel, with public access to the hotel’s restaurants and amenities. Shvo assured HPB members that the Raleigh’s iconic pool would remain as is.

Currently, the South Seas is approved for an 85-foot addition that would be constructed between the building fronting Collins Avenue and an 8-story building in the rear creating what attorney Alfredo Gonzalez told the HPB looks like “a long narrow shoe box.” The Richmond could be developed independently in a similar fashion. In addition, there could potentially be four large pavilions behind all three properties along the beachwalk “blocking views into the properties,” Gonzalez said. Shvo’s proposal would eliminate that “shoe box” effect, as well as remove some of the non-historic additions, he told the HPB.
A spokesman for the developer said, if approved by the HPB, “The proposed development would maximize open space and public access. This would create significant value for the City and its residents, while maintaining the architectural and aesthetic integrity of the neighborhood.”

Within the RM-3 Zoning District which runs from 16th to 72nd Streets along the ocean, the additional height was already allowed except for on the five blocks included in the text amendment. With the new zoning, the only sites that currently would be eligible for the extra height are the Raleigh/Richmond/South Seas properties when aggregated and the Shore Club, though other properties could be aggregated in the future to take advantage of it. (An attorney for the Marseilles Hotel asked Commissioners to consider reducing the aggregated lot size to 100,000 or 110,000 square feet so his client would be able to develop as well. The Commission referred the item to the Land Use Committee, Planning Board, and HPB for further discussion after Planning Director Tom Mooney said he wasn’t opposed to it.)
Shvo is not seeking additional FAR (Floor Area Ratio or density), rather he is seeking to move the FAR from the Richmond and South Seas to create the taller tower.  The Raleigh and the South Seas are 85 feet tall while the Richmond is 75 feet in height.
Daniel Ciraldo, Executive Director of the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL), told the HPB last month, “MDPL supports the text amendment.” Though the only renderings anyone has seen are massing concepts rather than actual designs, Ciraldo told the Board, “I would hope you’re open to allowing the design process to happen and seeing what they come back with,” reminding the Board they had final say over approval of any design and height. Ciraldo reiterated MDPL’s support for the text amendment at the Commission meeting.
Shvo is expected to close on the Richmond and South Seas purchases sometime this week.

Photos of The Raleigh courtesy The Raleigh Hotel Facebook page

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