One Miami high-rise gets commission OK amid protests
By Paola Iuspa
A proposed mixed-used project to rise near the mouth of the Miami River is moving forward after the developer got the OK to proceed despite some objections from neighbors.
One Miami, 205 Biscayne Blvd. one of the last of Miami's waterfront parcels available for development got a major-use special permit last week after two failed attempts.
Neighboring property owners had complained the proposed towers would block views and cast shade and representatives for the adjacent Hotel Inter-Continental contend that the project still will.
Miami One Centre, headed by Ned Seigel and Morris Stoltz, owns the land. The Related Group of Florida, headed by Jorge Perez, will develop the project, which his firm has a contract to buy.
With the special permit, the developer could have the green light to proceed with the next step unless someone appeals the commission's ruling, said attorney Adrienne Pardo with Greenberg Traurig, the law firm representing Miami One Centre.
"The developer will need to work on the design drawings to apply for a building permit to start construction," Ms. Pardo said.
Mr. Perez said he would continue working with the city to secure the feasibility of the project because the financing has yet to be determined.
"I am going to contact the Downtown Development Authority to see if we can get financial incentives to attract lenders," he said.
The authority is designing a financial incentive package that includes a 4% interest rate loan for projects in the central business district, said Patti Allen, Downtown Development Authority director.
City of Miami Mayor Joe Carollo praised the commission's decision.
"Once this development is done," he said, "many others will follow and that would bring millions in new construction."
To get the commission's OK, the developer had to meet with neighboring property owners and modify the original design, said Lucia Dougherty, also representing Miami One Center.
Under the new plans, a garage wall that was planned to rise above the fifth-floor pool of the adjacent Hotel Inter-Continental Miami, cutting off sun and view, was reduced from seven to five stories, Ms. Dougherty said.
The new design, she said, includes a 5,300-square-foot restaurant facing the river alongside a planned riverwalk, she said. The original plan had a 731-square-foot restaurant.
Other changes include a shorter residential tower of 38 floors, down from 49, and an office tower of 29 floors, down from 34, Ms. Dougherty said.
Jeffrey Bass, a lawyer who represents the Hotel Inter-Continental Miami, among other properties surrounding the future development, told the city commission the hotel management was not happy with the changes made and he "objected" to the approval.
Jack Love, a planner working with Mr. Bass, said the garage wall still obstructed views from the pool and cast a shadow.
"I can not conclude the problem has been solved," Mr. Love said.
Lourdes Slazyk, assistant director of the planning department, said the city did not have any law to regulating shadows from buildings.
But Ms. Dougherty and her team of experts said the hotel could fix the problem by moving around a pavilion that stands between the pool and the bay.
The commissioners also waived a Waterfront Charter provision that calls for a specific setback between the water and a property depending on the building depth.
A building is supposed to be set back 50 feet from the water if the building's depth is more than 200 feet. If it is less, the setback should be equal to 25% of the building's depth, experts say.
One Miami's curved shape would need in some parts 50-foot setbacks, according to the charter. But the design called for 14- to 38-foot setbacks, Ms. Dougherty said.
Brett Bibeau, assistant managing director of the Miami River Commission, told commissioners he would like to see a minimum setback of 16 feet and the removal of a fence between One Miami and the Dupont Plaza Hotel, 300 Biscayne Blvd., for pedestrians "to have a continuing walk" along the river.
Ms. Dougherty agreed to remove the fence and said the proposed setbacks could be increased if the developer reduced certain landscaping features, she said.
Commissioners told Ms. Dougherty to work with the planning department on the landscaping and approved the waiver on the grounds that the project encouraged pedestrian traffic and increased activity along the Miami River.