Class A Office Club Memberships Proposed for Historic Bancroft Hotel

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Class A Office Club Memberships Proposed for Historic Bancroft Hotel:

Owners say it’s an opportunity to help change miami beach's entertainment district

UPDATED May 12, 2021: The Historic Preservation approved the design of the project. The Planning Board still needs to review and approve the operational plan. That discussion was continued from the March meeting to the May 25 meeting.

Diversifying Miami Beach’s economy following a devastating year for the tourism and hospitality industry and changing the atmosphere in the City’s Entertainment District have been two of the highest priorities of elected leaders and the City administration. Creating more Class A office space is one of the ideas being floated.

At this week’s Planning Board meeting, the owners of the Bancroft Hotel at 1501 Collins Avenue and the adjacent Ocean Steps commercial development at 1500 Ocean Drive will present their proposal to renovate the historic hotel and create Class A office use as part of a “club membership” model. Their plans also include four ground level restaurants open to the public. 

The owners, Bancroft Ocean Five Holdings LLC, include Russell and Ronalee Galbut, Richard and Ryan Wisfisch, and Ana and Walter Zeinal.

In the application letter to the Board, attorney Graham Penn, Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin & Tapanes, wrote the “Collins Club” will offer memberships for “Class A+ office space within the upper levels of both buildings. The Club will offer an unprecedented set of amenities designed to attract high-end professionals and digital nomads to Miami Beach,” including fitness facilities and plunge pool, indoor and outdoor meeting space, and lounge areas. 

Penn said there will be two outdoor meeting areas, one on top of the Bancroft hotel building and the other on the roof of the Ocean Steps building. “Members will have access to food and beverage service in office spaces, meeting areas, and two lounges within the Club portion of the building. The Club space will not be open to the general public,” he wrote.

The proposal also calls for a new restaurant in the former Quality Meats location on the ground floor of the Bancroft and three commercial spaces on the ground level of the Ocean Steps building. “The ground level development is proposed to include one centrally located restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating,” according to the application. “Two additional commercial spaces on the ground level may be small restaurants.”

Penn noted a previous renovation by the former owners, “included the demolition of portions of three floors of the historic structure to provide space for a performance venue in the building.” 

“The performance venue was never a great success and now the entire commercial element of the building is empty,” Penn wrote. 

“[W]e believe that this first-class renovation plan is directly in line with the City’s ongoing visioning exercise for the Ocean Drive corridor,” Penn wrote. “Replacing a large nightclub/performance venue with Class A+ office space will be a significant benefit to the neighborhood.”

The application states that all outdoor bar counters will be closed by 8:00 pm daily and “Outside of permitted special events, no entertainment is permitted and all exterior music will be ambient in nature.”

“The exclusion of all entertainment from the Property will help reduce the ‘party’ atmosphere currently present in this area of the City,” Penn wrote in the application.

Rory Greenberg, a minority partner brought in “to help on execution, construction, and tenancy,” said “I think that COVID has kind of delivered working from home, work remotely fatigue.” At the same time, “People are not inspired by the office product on Miami Beach which is not surprising. It’s a bit tired.” But not everyone wants to “drive to Brickell and sign a ten-year lease.”

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to deliver the Miami Beach version of Class A office space,” Greenberg said. The Collins Club will offer members the ability to “work on demand, take an office when the need it” or have the option for smaller companies to take a series of small spaces. 

Outdoor conference rooms, while protected from the environment, will be open air spaces for companies to have collaborative professional workspaces in a post-COVID world. The goal is to be open in December 2022. 

Greenberg sees family financial offices, hedge funds, and tech startups as potential users.

The original business plan was to build a hotel, Greenberg said, but the developers believe the area is “really missing daytime uses and effective daytime uses for our residents to stay within our city.”

“I think Miami Beach has the best opportunity it has ever had,” Greenberg said to transform itself. “We seem to be the center of the world and everybody’s moving here,” but, he added, “The way the city looks and feels today is not going to get it done.” The developers are “looking to do a good project that’s mindful and that helps facilitate the conversion of the Entertainment District to the Art Deco Cultural District,” proposed by Mayor Dan Gelber.

In the Staff report for the Planning Board meeting, Planning Director Tom Mooney noted the total occupancy load of the restaurants is 1,048 with total occupancy of the entire project 2,207.

Proposed closing time for the restaurant within the Bancroft Hotel is 11 pm with the restaurant in the Ocean Steps commercial building closing at 2 am. No hours of operations were proposed for the smaller venues which could be a coffee bar and sushi bar, according to the staff memo. The office space and amenity areas are proposed to be in operation 24/7 with food and drink service terminating by 2 am and roof top service ending by 2 am.

Due to the proximity of the 1500 Ocean condominium to the east, City staff is recommending the exterior portions of restaurants close by midnight and that ambient background music cease by 11:00 pm nightly. For the roof terraces, staff recommends closing by 11 pm with ambient background music ending by 10 pm nightly.

The project is designed by Jennifer McConney-Gayoso of Studio Mc+G Architecture.

Rendering: Mc+G Architecture (Bancroft hotel in front, Ocean Steps, and 1500 Ocean condo building behind)


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