Sunset Harbour Overlay with Hotel Prohibition Approved by Miami Beach Commissioners with Exception to Allow Finvarb Suite Hotel

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Sunset Harbour Overlay with Hotel Prohibition Approved by Miami Beach Commissioners with Exception to Allow Finvarb Suite Hotel:

Community compromise sought before second reading in June

Miami Beach Commissioners passed on first reading an Overlay for Sunset Harbour providing height increases for office uses and a prohibition on hotels. They supported an exception allowing developer Ronny Finvarb to build a suite hotel at Dade Boulevard and Alton Road, though they asked Finvarb to work with the community to address their concerns about the hotel prior to second and final reading. After agreeing to reduce maximum occupancy at the Planning Board hearing on the hotel, Finvarb agreed to a further reduction at the Commission meeting.

The request for an exception came after Finvarb’s SOBE 18 LLC went “hard” on a contract to purchase the vacant property at 1790 Alton Road on February 1. At that point, according to attorney Mickey Marrero of Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin & Tapanes, Finvarb’s “substantial” deposit was nonrefundable, he had negotiated an agreement with Kimpton to operate the suite hotel and was well into the design process. Ten days later, the City began discussing the hotel prohibition as part of the new Sunset Harbour Overlay. Finvarb has since closed on the property which is across Dade Boulevard from his Kimpton Palomar Hotel.

Earlier this month, the Planning Board recommended in favor of the Overlay ordinance and providing an exception for Finvarb’s development.

“Our client did everything that a property owner should do in good faith,” Marrero told the Planning Board. “He did a great deal of due diligence,” meeting with City staff about his plans, “well before any of this was mentioned" regarding hotel prohibitions.

Public comment at the Commission meeting was mixed with neighbors imploring Commissioners to honor the intent of a Neighborhood Vision Plan to not allow hotels and tourists to encroach upon their neighborhood and others arguing a suite hotel that would accommodate families and include a restaurant equivalent to Morini’s which operates at the Palomar would be a welcome addition.

Commissioner Ricky Arriola, a Sunset Harbour resident who worked closely with the Sunset Harbour Neighborhood Association on the Vision Plan which was incorporated into the Overlay ordinance, said, “The issue with this hotel – it’s not my favorite use of property in the neighborhood. We do have a lot of hotels coming into the neighborhood” but noted, “Through no fault of this property owner, they made an investment before anyone knew… It’s a matter of fairness. I struggle with this.”

Arriola said he would support the exception on first reading but asked Finvarb to “try to hash out a compromise… to address some of the concerns and fears that people have [about the hotel] and try to get a compromise done.”

The prohibition on hotels is just one aspect of the Overlay ordinance which provides a height increase to 65 feet for office uses on properties fronting Dade Boulevard between Alton Road and Bay Road, properties fronting Alton Road between 20th Street and Dade Boulevard as well as those fronting Purdy Avenue between 18th Street and Dade Boulevard.

“It’s a tough one here because we have a number of hotels that are pretty proximate,” Commissioner Mark Samuelian said. “The Vision Plan really is set to prohibit hotels and incentivize offices. That said, I hear the fairness argument too. This is a developer with a good reputation that made some commitments and now has committed capital and wants to invest. I remain open here at first reading… but I think we do need more outreach and compromise with the community. People hear of suites with six people. Sometimes that brings an image of Spring Break and the party scene we’ve seen on the east side of the Beach.”

At the Planning Board hearing, Finvarb agreed to a maximum of six people per suite. During the Commission discussion, Samuelian generated a proffer from the developer for a maximum occupancy of four adults and maximum occupancy of six with children. 

Though approved unanimously, several Commissioners indicated their support was for first reading only and said they’ll wait to see what the neighborhood thinks before approving the exception on second/final reading which is scheduled for June 23.

Details on the ordinance are here.

Rendering of proposed Kimpton Palomar Suites Hotel at the corner of Dade Boulevard and Alton Road

The Kimpton Palomar developed by Finvarb across Dade Boulevard from the proposed suite hotel

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