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Front Page » Government » Miami board again votes against a downtown Melo skyscraper

Miami board again votes against a downtown Melo skyscraper

Written by on October 28, 2020
Miami board again votes against a downtown Melo skyscraper

A Miami review board has unanimously recommended denial of plans for a skyscraper downtown from The Melo Group, advice the outgoing city planning director ignored for another Melo project that is now rising.

The denial vote Oct. 21 is rare for the Urban Development Review Board, whose role is to advise the planning director.
The latest Melo proposal, Downtown 1st, is a 58-story, 537-foot residential tower at 30 SW First St. with 560 housing units, 12,930 square feet for offices, 2,925 square feet for commercial-retail, and a parking pedestal for 453 vehicles. It sits west of South Miami Avenue, between Southwest First Street and an I-95 on-ramp.

The motion to deny specifically mentions “due to the orientation of the building.”

An attorney for Melo wrote to the city, “The Property is located within the City’s Urban Core in the Central Business District, an area of the City which is being revitalized through new residential, commercial and office uses.”

Board members opposed the building’s size and placement on the site, locations of two swimming pools, and requested waivers including reducing required setbacks.

More than half-dozen waiver requests seek to reduce the drive entry width, increase lot coverage, reduce front and side setbacks above the eighth floor, and more.

The Melo attorney wrote, “The Property is a narrow, irregularly shaped site which fronts one (1) accessible street (SW 1st Street) and the I-95 on-ramp which does not provide access to the Property. These unique conditions create practical difficulties in strict adherence to certain Miami 21 [zoning code] requirements … [the waivers] are consistent with the guiding principles of Miami 21.”

Board member Anthony Tzamtzis called the proposed tower “excessive, monolithic, too much,” and expressed frustration regarding Melo: “we’ve seen this type of work before; we turned it down but then in gets approved.”

In 2019, the board unanimously recommended denial of another Melo project, the twin-tower Downtown 5th at 55 NE Fifth St., but Planning Director Francisco Garcia subsequently approved it. Construction began in late December.

Of the current proposal, Mr. Tzamtzis said, “I have some reservations about this building … (and) a bitter impression from the last time you guys showed up. We turned down the building but the building was approved later. How do you think I feel about whatever we say and do, you get the building approved after all?”

Board member Robert Behar said, “I think you’re just putting a lot onto this site. It’s not the best building that we could potentially get there … I’m not really in favor trying to maximize the envelope to the fullest.”

Developer Carlos Melo replied, “I feel this building is a very great product for the market we’re focusing on … I don’t see what the problem here is … I don’t share your positions.”

Board Chairman Willy Bermello said “we have an applicant who believes he is correct and (isn’t listening).” Earlier, he said, “It is hard to be excited with this project, with all the waivers and the architecture not being up to par. I have issues with what I have before me.”

Mr. Bermello later asked for more dialog in general between the incoming planning director and the board – Mr. Garcia has resigned effective Nov. 6. The board asked staff to set up a meeting with his successor in November or December.

12 Responses to Miami board again votes against a downtown Melo skyscraper

  1. Oscar

    October 28, 2020 at 11:14 am

    I have seen many Melo projects including the one they rejected (Downtown 5th).
    The architecture of their projects is excellent.
    Miami will be better served with fewer boards.

    • Sabrina Rodriguez

      October 29, 2020 at 9:42 am

      I read that Melo Group finished the Top off of DOWNTOWN 5TH (53 FLOORS) in 37 WEEKS! Amazing Melo!!!, keep up the good work and don’t listen to the haters 🙂

  2. William P Martin

    October 28, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    I think for that location is an acceptable looking tower and a great infill that will bring much needed life to a desolate area.

  3. Claudia Fernandez

    October 29, 2020 at 9:35 am

    I saw the presentation and the board was completely biased and it seemed as if the board had a personal problem with this developer based on a previous project. It is unprecedented the way they spent the presentation arguing about the location of a “pool” when what’s at stake is affordable RENTAL housing for young professionals of this city.

  4. Mateo Morales

    October 29, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Go see the presentation this was completely personal! They want it to deny it before even seeing it. This board of architects should be ashamed.

  5. Marcela E.

    October 29, 2020 at 9:57 am

    A board of prominent architects should not pass judgement based on conflict of interest, and personal biased related to past projects of the same developer.

  6. Juan

    October 29, 2020 at 9:57 am

    The project looks great to me. The board critic seems very poor. Such a project can not be tuned down based week arguments and pervious projects.

  7. Fernando

    October 29, 2020 at 10:27 am

    This board is the perfect example of all this is wrong with the city of Miami burocracy, Little people sitting on their boards, trying to feel important, giving useless opinions to a developer with a proven track record of getting results for the working class people of Miami. These people should be ashamed of themselves, but they have no shame as can be seen from their responses.

  8. Edward

    October 31, 2020 at 1:18 am

    Melo needs to step up their designs. Their buildings offer a good product with competitive rents, but there is some architecture that simply does not belong to the Urban Core of a city in the level of Miami. The 4-5 buildings they have built in the Arsht Center area look like the projects…these buildings will be here for the next 80 years, and the board is looking and defending the public interests by vetting poor designs in prominent locations. Melo, keep the good work, but strive to refine your designs for the City Core!

  9. Kenneth Fantes

    November 2, 2020 at 7:56 am

    MELO is the group that pushes the construction in this city, normal product but the cheaper price of the condos on rents. Why the city is going to block them and now when we need jobs and do a huge change to downtown, Moshie Mana is doing nothing to Downtown the city needs more life in that part of the area.

  10. Juan Martinez

    January 4, 2021 at 11:44 am

    The project looks fantastic to me. The board critic seems extremely poor. Such a great project cannot be turned down based on previous projects and week arguments. For that location, I think it is an acceptable looking tower and a genuine infill that will bring life to a dismal area.

  11. Randall Ellison

    January 9, 2021 at 11:13 am

    The presentation seems completely biased and personal. Without seeing they denied it. The architects and board must be ashamed.