Miami Beach Preservation Board Approves Sterling Building Hotel

Lincoln Road

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Preservation Board Approves Sterling Building Hotel:

First application utilizing new incentives for hotels on Lincoln Road

Miami Beach’s Historic Preservation Board approved a seven-story hotel addition to be built at the rear of the Sterling Building on Lincoln Road. It is the first project to move forward that utilizes new incentives for hotels on the street approved last year by the City Commission. The hotel will have 144 rooms, 120 in the new structure and 24 rooms created through the conversion of office space in the existing building at the front which will be restored and renovated.

There will be a rooftop pool and the existing courtyard will remain and be renovated. Tenant Books and Books at the rear of the courtyard is expected to stay. 

Hotels had been a permitted use on Lincoln Road but property owners said they were not economically feasible. Commissioners agreed to allow height up to 75 feet on the north side of Lincoln Road from Pennsylvania to Lenox Avenue. On the south side, allowable height remains 50 feet. They also approved smaller hotel room sizes and the elimination of parking requirements. In exchange, developers will have to provide space and funding for art and culture activities.

The Sterling Building was originally constructed in 1928 with a rear addition in 1929. To accommodate the new addition, approximately 70% of the rear building will be demolished. Sam Herzberg has owned the building at 927 Lincoln Road since 1997.

One of the features of the new design, according to architect Kobi Karp, is the pedestrianization of Lincoln Lane North behind the Sterling Building which will serve as the primary access point to the hotel.

“We have an opportunity… to really connect Lincoln Lane with Lincoln Road,” creating a public space “that does not exist in too many locations,” Karp told Board members. “We would improve the lane itself, the area behind, because we want to open up Lincoln Lane for pedestrian movement and make it more of an urban solution that not only opens up the façade to Lincoln Road but also creates a hotel drop off and entry lane on Lincoln Lane.”

Karp has a special attachment to the building. His first office in 1988 was located in one of the building’s storefronts facing Lincoln Road.

“The Sterling Building is one of the most gorgeous, beautiful designs that we have in Miami Beach,” Karp said. “It was always a destination but now we really have an opportunity to connect it from the rear.” Plans include burying the FPL overhead cables, “so it will feel, if you will, like Lincoln Road for us,” he added.

HPB member Nancy Liebman said she would vote in favor of the project but, “I do it with heavy heart because this is one of the most magnificent buildings in the City, obviously, and I think this is the beginning of the end of the gorgeous Lincoln Road… I’m so afraid that we’re going to just lose the whole beauty of the historic buildings and the historic street.”

“I can only approve it because it is such a good design,” she said, “but I hope not too many of these are going to come along.”

Board chair Stevan Pardo agreed this is a "precedent setting project for Lincoln Road because it is going to change and transform how we take historic structures and make sure that they are not dwarfed by those additions that are going to be a new evolving part, I think, of the development of the City… None of us here want to see the integrity and the beauty and the intimacy of what Lincoln Road brings to the pedestrian who walks it every day, whether tourist or local, become [compromised].”

He praised Karp’s design saying, “We have this opportunity to bring the hospitality concepts to Lincoln Raod which I think makes perfect sense. I think you’ve figured it out perfectly. I think it’s going to set the stage for what I think are going to be other opportunities.”

The connection from Lincoln Road to Lincoln Lane, he opined, is “critical to the success of what we’re going to see on Lincoln Road. If we can do that more in other projects without compromising the historic fabric of Lincoln Road, then you will have done a really great job.”

The Board approved the project 5-0. It was approved by the Planning Board in December

The full HPB application and plans are here.

Renderings: Kobi Karp Architecture

View from Lincoln Lane
View toward Lincoln Lane from Michigan Avenue with approved corner building "ghosted" in foreground


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