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Front Page » Real Estate » Miami River Commission want city answers on major project

Miami River Commission want city answers on major project

Written by on June 4, 2019
  • www.miamitodaynews.com
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Miami River Commission want city answers on major project

A plan to build a 12-story project on the Miami River offering offices, hotel rooms, luxury residential units and restaurants has been deferred for at least a month by the Miami River Commission.

On a divided vote Monday, the commission voted to defer the case until its July 1 meeting, with the intent to send the project back to committee and require city officials to answer planning and zoning questions.

A development team that includes Avra Jain and others proposes to build a mixed-use project called 555 River House on riverfront property at 517-663 NW South River Drive. The site is currently a commercial shipping terminal and has been for many years.

The plan includes 120,000 square feet of office uses, a hotel with 175 keys, 39 residential units on top of the hotel, and restaurants.

The plan includes a rooftop bar and swimming pool for hotel guests.

Two of the issues the commission wants city officials to address are whether the rooftop use requires special permission, and whether the project is entitled to a 30% reduction in required parking.

The property is on the south side of the river and across from the Spring Garden historic district. Members of the Spring Garden Civic Association have voiced concerns and opposition to the project.

The owner-developers presented their plan to the commission’s Urban Infill and Greenways Subcommittee on May 17.

Carlos Salas, president of the civic association, reported then that association members are concerned about the proposed height of the project, restaurants with outdoor seating, the rooftop pool and bar, and waiver requests to reduce parking, narrow the public riverwalk and waterfront building setback.

Mr. Salas read and distributed a letter from Ernest Martin, who lives in Spring Garden and is co-chair of the subcommittee, in opposition to the project.

On Monday, Mr. Salas shared Dr. Martin’s letter with the full river commission.

He read: “I would like to express my opposition to the project, 555 River House, located at 516-663 NW South River Drive for the following reasons:

“(1) The project is too close to the 8-story residential building to its immediate west which is already under construction.

“(2) The height of the project is overwhelming to its surroundings and specifically to the Spring Garden Historic District directly across the River. The proposed project will create a canyon effect and will carry noise up and down the River.

“(3) It is inappropriate to allow outdoor dining on the ground floor level along the River with residences nearby. There should be no outdoor dining.

“(4) The rooftop pool and bar are also problematic for the same reason. Noise is a huge concern for all nearby residents.

“In conclusion, the project is simply too dense, too tall, and has amenities that are inappropriate and incompatible for this area of the Miami River,” Mr. Martin had written.

Mr. Salas said the proposed 12-story project is huge and will “hover over” Spring Garden and Little Havana.

He said the river commission shouldn’t allow another shipping company to go out of business to make room for this project.

Charles Greenfield, a Spring Garden homeowner, voiced concern about noise and music from the proposed rooftop venue. “Noise is a huge problem,” he said, as noise from other properties is carried into the historic district, which has more than 150 homes.

Iris Escarra, an attorney representing the developers, characterized the property as “a very funky site” and said the design team had challenges with the odd-shaped parcel.

Because of this, she noted that some of the planned public riverwalk is narrower than the code calls for, and developers are requesting waterfront setback waivers at a couple of “pinch points” on the property.

There will be a new seawall and the project will include dockage and 600 feet of new riverwalk, Ms. Escarra said.

She told the commission the developers will not “max out” the property, as they are leaving about 200,000 square feet on the table, along with 200 residential units and 400 hotel rooms.

Ms. Escarra also said the project has no plans for outdoor dining. “Our restaurants are inside the building,” she said.

The project would be two distinct buildings, connected by elevated walkways.

6 Responses to Miami River Commission want city answers on major project

  1. Michael Reply

    June 5, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Typical. They want to maintain Miami’s inner core as an inappropriate pseudo-suburb. The neighboring buildings are low quality and probably won’t be around for much longer. 12-story buildings are not “huge” for the inner core.

    The inner core should be pedestrian and transit friendly. The kind of density and mixed use that this project envisions promotes a better environment than what now exists. Noise is a legitimate concern, but it can be controlled.

  2. Spring Garden Historic District Reply

    June 5, 2019 at 10:40 am

    The 555 River House plans reflects tables and chairs (outdoor dining) in the plans on both the ground floor over looking the river and Spring Garden Historic District and on the roof top. The plans also make the river walk smaller to make room for outdoor dining.

  3. EJS Reply

    June 6, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Oh no! Imagine how horrible it would be to see people enjoying the Miami River having lunch outdoors on a promenade. And having that promenade extended from the new devt going in next door. I live on the Miami River at Flagler St and welcome creating a new, vibrant addition to the River. If Spring Garden Assoc doesn’t want it, well, purchase the land yourself — and if you do, I’m sure you’d build a wall on it, further protecting you from city dwellers.

  4. Anneliese Morales Reply

    June 7, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    While the design is lovely, it’s too large. Traffic is a legitimate concern, especially with all the ongoing Florida Department of Transportation roadwork, which seems never ending.
    While new residents living in sheltered condos along the edge of the lower river by Flagler only recently, they don’t see the repercussions of the requested parking variance, which is inappropriate.
    Lastly, having outdoor dining patrons across the river, next to single-family home residents’ backyards is an invasion of privacy. There are many new outdoor cafes along the Miami River for patrons, and requesting a variance for residents to allow more recreational boats practically in their backyards is inconvenient and inconsiderate to other residents who live and work in the District, who are being asked to accommodate their lifestyles to accommodate full-time recreation.

    We certainly don’t need the added density, nor the parking variance so far from transit, nor a variance limiting the width of the walkway with all the other new construction coming soon as well.

    I am truly surprised at some comments here. The Spring Garden Neighborhood Association’s concerns are well warranted. I know Ms. Jain would feel the same way if Mr. Prieguez built a boutique hotel like this directly across the street from the Historic Miami River Inn, as he also once suggested, and the idea was quickly and correctly shot down, as this one should also be. As a lifetime resident of this area, I am against a few variances, including the adjusted width of our Miami Riverwalk with more people! This project doesn’t make sense to our HISTORIC RIVERSIDE MIAMI community either! It’s poorly planned, and we need something better, fair for everyone, especially FULL TIME RESIDENTS, not just transient ones. The massive building will “tunnel” the Miami River Greenway with its height, purposefully zoned as is by MIAMI 21.
    The Middle River isn’t meant to be part of the Lower River’s “Condo Canyon”! The Miami River Commission was created to implement the vision without the requested variances for a reason, protecting ALL STAKEHOLDERS, not just a few!

  5. mike Reply

    June 11, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    This project is too massive for the area. It would make a wall on the river. Any project along the river needs to be smaller in order to take advantage of the river walk.

  6. Jorge Reply

    June 11, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    My only concern is that one of the developers is Avra Jain, so judging by the amount of years she is taking to remodel two smalls motels in the MiMo District, this one will be finished In 2070.
    Other than that, I think development like this will definitely benefit the Miami River to became a desirable destination.

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