Beach Panel Oks Variances For Eden Roc Renovation
By Charlotte Libov
Eight variances for renovation and expansion of the Eden Roc resort won unanimous approval from the Miami Beach Board of Adjustment Friday, clearing the way for a project that would place the landmark within an inch of an expanded Fontainebleau.
"I’m very pleased. This enables the project to move forward," said attorney Neisen Kasdin, representing Eden Roc officials. He said the plan needs a "relatively minor" approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Board for a detail on the southwest façade. The board preservation board was scheduled to meet Tuesday.
There was no opposition to the Eden Roc plan, although board member Herb Gosman said he was concerned that an adjacent alley would be too narrow for emergency vehicles to get to the beach. However, Mr. Kasdin said the alley is the Fontainebleau’s responsibility and there is beach access at the entrance to the boardwalk nearby.
The plan calls for partial demolishment of the 14-story hotel, including the ballroom and sports center, and construction of a 21-story hotel tower on the south portion of the property, nearest to the Fontainebleau.
Once the project is completed, the resort would have 632 hotel rooms, none of them hotel condos, Mr. Kasdin said. The number includes 349 existing hotel rooms along with 270 new rooms and 13 suites that would be housed in a separate tower.
The new tower will help "right the most famous architectural offense in the history of the City of Miami Beach’s history," Mr. Kasdin said, referring to the "spite wall," built when the Fontainebleau was constructed in 1962.
The blank wall reportedly was intended by Fontainebleau owners to block the sun from the Eden Roc’s pool. Now the wall will serve as a backdrop for Eden Roc’s condominium tower, part of the refurbishing. Fontainebleau officials plan to build a tower on the wall, which would put the hotels an inch apart.
The renovated Eden Roc should be ready for use by 2007, Mr. Kasdin said.
"We need the variances we are seeking today because of the spite wall," Mr. Kasdin said. "These unique circumstances dictate and have triggered the need for the variance."
Architect James Nichols of Nichols Brosh Wurst Wolf in Coral Gables is designing both the Eden Roc and the Fontainebleau projects, said Melanie Muss, a development consultant at Fontainebleau Resorts – evidence that the former rivals are working in tandem.
"The plans are incredibly exciting for the properties," she said. "They are going to be incredibly close. It’s the first time in history that there is a collaboration and a good neighborly relationship."
"When you think of it, what’s the point of there being 10 feet between them?" Mr. Kasdin said. "This will be the end of the spite wall. Peace between the Eden Roc and the Fontainebleau will reign, and everyone will live happily ever after."