Wyndham hopes to build residential tower in Coconut Grove
By Susan Stabley
The developers of Wyndham Grand Bay in Coconut Grove want to build a 53-unit, 20-story residential tower where residents will share amenities with hotel guests.
The tower would rise at 2675 S. Bayshore Drive, next to the Wyndham.
The owners of the two parcels are PAH-Grand Bay Miami LLP, owned by Patriot American Hospitality Inc., which in turn is owned by Wyndham International Inc.
Both sites were acquired together, said the developer's attorney, Stephen J. Helfman of Miami firm Weis Serota Helfman Pastoriza Guedes Cole & Boniske.
"It's a total incorporation of the entire Grand Bay site," Mr. Helfman said. "The entrances are through the Grand Bay driveways. Owners will have all the benefits of the Grand Bay Hotel, of the Wyndham services, as a resident."
Building permits could be pulled in six months with construction finished within 18 months, he said.
The site is now home to the Miami offices of accounting firm Lewis B. Freeman & Partners Inc. One of its principals is City Commissioner Joe Sanchez.
The two-story building had once been home to a hotel, even a recording studio, but was vacant when his firm moved in about 10 months ago, said Lewis B. Freeman.
The City of Miami has already approved the project with a special permit for the new tower, but an appeal is to be heard today (2/26) from the nearby Ritz-Carlton and condo residents concerned with blocked views and insufficient parking.
A proposal for The Tower at Grand Bay was first filed with the city in January 2003. The city's planning and zoning director approved a construction permit Sept. 11 with some conditions.
A few days later, Coral Gables attorney Anthony J. O'Donnell Jr. filed an appeal. He represents neighbors opposing the project who include members of the Tower Residences Condo Association and other condo owners who reside at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, 3400 SW 27th Ave.
But Mr. Helfman said Tuesday that the city code did not exist to prevent projects from blocking the views of other buildings.
"This is an issue about their views. The Ritz properties are not on Bayshore," Mr. Helfman said. "If they wanted views, they need to buy property that is on the waterfront."
But Mr. O'Donnell said the project in its current design is unlawful, with insufficient parking proposed under city requirements.
"I've never seen such an outrageous and direct violation of the zoning code and you can quote me," he said Tuesday. In order to comply, he said, the building would have to be about 40% smaller. Added parking would be impossible because of height limitations, he said.
The project also improperly transferred development rights from the hotel's existing site, according to Mr. O'Donnell.
The city's zoning board denied the appeal against The Tower at Grand Bay Project
Nov. 3 in a 6-0 vote. If the city commission denies the next appeal, Mr. O'Donnell said he would sue in circuit court.