Related Group Pivots from Luxury Tower to Offices on Miami Beach’s Terminal Island

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Related Group Pivots from Luxury Tower to Offices on Miami Beach’s Terminal Island:

Coast Guard had objected to proposal for residential tower

Related Group, facing stiff opposition from the U.S. Coast Guard for a residential tower on Miami Beach's Terminal Island, is now proposing two low-rise office buildings instead. In materials being circulated to the local community, the developer includes renderings of two 4-story towers with 160,000 sq ft of office space, 11,250 sq ft of restaurant space, executive helicopter pads, and a mega-yacht marina.

One slide notes the traffic impact: 2,628 additional daily two-way trips on the MacArthur Causeway which the developer claims is a 3% increase in daily traffic.

Related has owned the 3.71-acre parcel on the southeastern tip of Terminal Island since 2013. The site is approved for cargo terminal operations which was its previous use.

In February, 2017, the developer proposed a 25-story, 90-unit residential tower at 300 feet with a deep-water large-yacht marina but the plans were met with strong objections from the Coast Guard which Captain Brian Keffer said at the time included “incompatibility of our industrial processes with residential living, the negative impact to our port security and, most importantly, the impact on Coast Guard operations which serve the public.” The proposed tower, he said, “would provide an overlook from an elevated position for others designed to surveil Coast Guard operations including cutter movement, narcotics offloads, and criminal transfers.”
Last June, Related Group Chairman and CEO Jorge Pérez tried a different strategy – a taller, skinnier building, this one 457 feet tall with 34 stories and 90 units. To get the height, Pérez sought to combine FAR (Floor Area Ratio or density) from several parcels in the area onto the tower site. In exchange, he offered additional land to the City to expand its Fleet Management facility on Terminal Island. Construction costs, estimated to be about $18 million, would have been funded by Related. Attorney Tracy Slavens, Holland & Knight, said at the time that the developer was optimistic he would gain the support of the Coast Guard. 

Speaking to Miami Beach City Commissioners, Pérez presented the alternative, what he could build “as of right” under current zoning – a large “four-story office or warehouse that covers most of the site” and which he said would generate 376% more traffic than the proposed residential tower. That is exactly what he is now proposing.

The South of Fifth Neighborhood Association (SOFNA) supported the taller residential tower when it was presented last summer because of its lower intensity.  Ron Starkman, SOFNA's president at the time, told Commissioners, “We recommended approving the Terminal Island project, primarily because we saw less traffic if we had a residential tower than if there was an office building there, a low-rise office building which is their alternative. It would include a lot more traffic and second, if they did it that way the City would not receive the public benefit of the maintenance facility which we know is so desperately needed by the City.”

The new proposal for the office buildings is expected to be on the Planning Board agenda for the August 25 meeting and before the Design Review Board on September 1.

Renderings courtesy Related Group


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