Hotels Approved for Lincoln Road

Lincoln Road

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Hotels Approved for Lincoln Road:

Developers will need to provide arts and culture space for right to build

Incentives to develop hotels on Lincoln Road received final approval from Miami Beach Commissioners this month. While hotels were already allowed there, property owners said they were not economically feasible without additional height, smaller rooms, and elimination of parking requirements. The City’s Historic Preservation Board gave its imprimatur to the idea as a means of preserving contributing buildings on the street. Contributing structures are buildings deemed as having historic significance. 
 
The approval sets the stage for two hotels now in the works, one above the Sterling Building at 927 Lincoln Road on the north side and Lincoln Center at 630 Lincoln Road on the south side. 
 
The area covered under the ordinance encompasses Pennsylvania to Lenox Avenue. Allowable height is now 75 feet, up from 50, on the north side of the street which abuts more commercial properties and the area between Lincoln Lane North and 17th Street where the maximum height is 80 feet. To take advantage of the height increase, a property must have a minimum lot area of 30,000 sq ft and a minimum of 100 hotel units must be provided. There is no height increase for the south side of Lincoln Road which sits next to more residential areas. In each case, developers are required to improve the alley behind their property from end to end.
 
Previously, rooftop additions on contributing buildings could only be one-story. The incentives allow multistory rooftop additions that, on the north side with the increased height, must be set back at least 75 feet from Lincoln Road and at least 25 feet from any adjacent side street. On the south side, a multistory rooftop addition may be 50 feet in height but must be set back at least 65 feet from Lincoln Road.  
 
Sam Herzberg, who owns the Sterling Building, already has renderings in process to build a hotel structure on top of the rear portion of his building. The Sterling is home to Books and Books which is nestled in the back corner of a courtyard.
 
Herzberg’s attorney, Mickey Marrero said 144 rooms are planned for the Sterling which Herzberg has owned for more than twenty years. He said long-time tenant Books and Books is important to his client and is expected to stay. 

Developers on the north side will be required to “fully improve” the portion of Lincoln Lane abutting their property, as well as the remaining portion of Lincoln Lane from block-end to block-end. Marrero said Lincoln Road property owners and the City have wanted to find ways “to really take advantage of Lincoln Lane and make it more than an alley.” Ideas have included pushing restaurants “toward the outer edges.” But the Sterling Building project “would take it a step further and have it fully activated on that side” with a drop off area and store frontage, he said.
 
On the Lincoln Road side, the courtyard area will remain. In conversations with the Miami Design Preservation League, the Lincoln Road BID, and neighbors, Marrero said, it was very clear that “everyone really values that courtyard.” The building, which previously housed the Miami Beach Women’s Club, “was always a gathering space, the building in general,” he said. “It will still be a place where people congregate and gather.” The courtyard will lead into the hotel lobby. 
 
Plans for the hotel have been submitted to the Planning and Historic Preservation Boards and Marrero expects them to be heard at the beginning of 2020. If all goes well with approvals and permitting, construction could start by the end of next year. 
 
“They want to move quickly,” Marrero said. “Hopefully things stay stable enough [with the market] that they can proceed.”
 
Marrero referenced a review of area hotel rooms by the City’s Economic Development Department indicated a need for more hotels in the area because of the Convention Center. At the same time, he said, “Lincoln Road seems to be asking for something, for a catalyst. We hope this is it. We hope this is at least a part of what will bring Lincoln Road back to prominence.” 
 
Herzberg is “very personally and emotionally invested in this property and wants to see it be a success along with all of Lincoln Road,” Marrero said.
 
Mel Schlesser, owner of the Lincoln Center, is not as far along with his plans. In his case, his building did operate as a hotel until it was renovated and converted to office use in the early 2000s. 
 
One important requirement for property owners wanting to take advantage of the incentives: They must provide a minimum of 500 sq ft of ground-floor public benefit space for as long as the property is used as a hotel to be utilized by “Miami Beach-based not-for-profit entities and/or artisans, as workshops or for display or demonstration purposes” open to public view. In addition, property owners must contribute 0.5% of the total construction costs associated with the proposed hotel project to the Art in Public Places program. 
 
Significantly, the multistory additions may be cantilevered over a contributing building “without the requirement that the building be demolished and reconstructed as a ground up addition, encouraging the retention and restoration of contributing buildings,” according to the Staff memo prepared for Commissioners. 
 
The ordinance also eliminated the parking requirements for new hotel units in the additions to contributing buildings on Lincoln Road, reduced the required hotel unit size to a minimum of 200 sq ft on the north side and a minimum average size of 250 sq ft on the south side as long as the hotels include a minimum of 5% of the total floor area as amenity space. 
 
Commissioner Michael Góngora said, the ordinance “balances a pro development need which is introducing hotels into Lincoln Road something that will add bodies to the street and, hopefully, help revitalize it. But it’s also good for the community because it has community room space.”
 
While supportive of the measure, Commissioner Mark Samuelian wanted to add a cap on the number of rooms to start despite a reluctance by the City’s Planning Department to restrict the number. “I have great respect for our Administration’s analysis,” Samuelian said, “but you don’t know what you don’t know. And we’ve not done this in quite a while and what my concern is is that we suddenly open up all of this space that we’re talking about and we get the hotels in and we wake up one day and say, ‘You know, we didn’t really expect this.’” 
 
“Crawl, walk, run,” he said. “I believe that we need some cap of the rooms that we can lift at any moment in time. Let’s get a couple projects going. Let’s see how this works. And then, if this is doing everything we want, we can expand from there. But I’d hate to wake up one day and say ‘Gee, I wish we hadn’t let all those projects happen at once.’ So I’d like the cap back in.” 
 
Planning Director Tom Mooney said “The Administration was struggling with trying to find a rationale for a cap,” based on the Economic Development Department’s analysis, but he said the suggested 500 rooms would cover the two known proposers and “maybe one or two others.” 
 
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the ordinance with the 500-room cap. 
 
There is the potential for a request to expand it to the 500 block of Lincoln Road (Drexel Avenue). Previously, the owners of Rosinella had said they were interested in exploring a hotel for their site and it was placed on the agenda of the Land Use and Development Committee’s October 30th meeting. However, Mooney said the property owners “are not sure they’re moving forward” and they may request a deferral from the Oct 30th date. 
 
Sterling Building renderings: Kobi Karp
 
Proposed hotel addition at rear of historic Sterling Building on Lincoln Road

 
The courtyard of the Sterling Building leading into the lobby of the proposed hotel

 
View from Lincoln Road

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