Work On New Burger King Campus To Begin Next Month
By Suzy Valentine
Codina Group is to break ground next month on the first phase of a project that will house the Burger King Corp. headquarters beginning in 2008.
The Coral Gables developer is to break ground next month on a four-story building in a parking lot at 2855 LeJeune Rd. that will house City National Bank. When that 50,000-square-foot site is completed, Codina estimates within a year, the bank can move from 2701 LeJeune Rd. to make way for a 15-story building the fast-food giant will occupy.
Completion of the second phase is to follow two years later.
Codina can move forward after satisfying city officials Tuesday at what will be its last public hearing. The company won unanimous support from the city commission for matters that included traffic management and height concessions.
The developer’s representative who attended the City Hall meeting said neighbors who raised concerns about traffic flow on LeJeune Road did not attend but sent a representative who thanked the company for its efforts.
"Concerns raised included parking, not for the building but for the area, on the west side of LeJeune Road," said Vice President Rafael Rodon. "The city approved staff recommendations for matters that included a drive-through at the smaller building and height bonuses for building in the Mediterranean style."
Codina is to pay up to $150,000 to commission a traffic study and resolve issues the investigation identifies. The city has granted Codina permission to build up to three stories higher than the 13 for which the Central Business district is zoned in exchange for a pledge to build the future Burger King headquarters in the Mediterranean style. Codina will build 15 stories rather than 16.
The group’s founder said it was unfortunate that his company’s efforts to negotiate with neighbors put the project in the spotlight. "The site is zoned for commercial building," said President Armando Codina, "but it is ironic that on a site where we have these advantages, when you try to do infill, neighbors don’t like it. Our project has attracted a lot of attention because of our sensitivity to the neighbors."
Mr. Codina said he was happy to have resolved any differences. "The talks with the neighbors proved very constructive," he said, "but it’s becoming more difficult to do any kind of construction."
Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick welcomed the addition. "It is good for the city to have this kind of new building development," he said. "It took the commission an hour to unanimously approve the conditions that the company has agreed to with regard to traffic-calming and general protection of the neighborhood because the site is directly opposite a number of single-family homes.
"Still, this area is zoned for this kind of project and had the city not embraced this, there could have followed another developer who was less sensitive to local needs," the mayor said.