Belle Isle leaders push for green space for 17th Street, not proposed Marriott hotel

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

The Belle Isle Residents Association asked 10 other neighborhood associations to join them in urging Miami Beach to use Housing Authority land north of 17th Street at West Avenue for green space, rather than sell most of it to a hotel developer.

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

The Housing Authority has an agreement to sell about 25,000 square feet of land east of West Avenue between 17th Street and the Collins Canal to the Finvarb Group, which owns and operates several Marriott properties. Finvarb plans to build a 116-room Residence Inn on the property, and the proposal is scheduled to be heard by the Miami Beach Planning Board on April 30.

The Belle Isle Association letter, signed by BIRA president Scott Diffenderfer, argues the property is too small the accommodate the development and is too awkwardly places amid intersections on Alton Road, 17th Street, Dade Boulevard and West Avenue and therefore will result in added traffic congestion.

“Residents of the surrounding neighborhoods need to write to the Planning Board Members and City Commissioners,” Diffenderfer wrote.  “Please circulate the attached “Green Spaces-Not Traffic” document to the residents you represent and ask those who wish to support this position to do so now before the April 30 Planning Board meeting.”

The purchase of the Housing Authority land is contingent on city approval of the hotel.

On March 13, the Miami Beach City Commission relaxed parking requirements for small hotels in the city’s historic district, and added the 17th Street parking to the the more generous rules. That decision was opposed by the Belle Isle Residents Association and the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association.

So far, four neighborhood associations have signed on to the Belle Isle association initiative, according to Belle Isle board member Herb Frank: the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association, the Venetian Island Homeowner Association, Sunset Island homeowners and the Sunset Island 3 and 4 homeowners group.

Interestingly, one member of the Planning Board,  real estate analyst Charles Urstadt, is a Belle Isle association board member, and a second, architecture professor Jean-Francois LeJeune, was on the board until he resigned in March. A third, Frank Kruszewski, is the former manager of the Costa Brava condominium on Belle Isle and  lives in Sunset Harbour. (Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Kruszewski is currently the manager at Costa Brava; he no longer is).

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28 responses to “Belle Isle leaders push for green space for 17th Street, not proposed Marriott hotel

  1. Great blog, thanks….fyi…Jean-Francois LeJeune IS NO LONGER A BIRA BOARD MEMBER. Herb

    • If business establishments are building adequate on site parking then why are valet parking lots popping up all over the West Ave corridor (1681 West Ave, 1215 West Ave, 1511 Alton Rd, 1500 Alton Rd, 630 Alton Rd). Most ironic, last month a valet parking lot across the street from the proposed 17th Street hotel.

      I wonder what business establishment are using the valet lots. Can the Planning depart. supply this information at the next Planning Board meeting?

  2. Wow. This is so ridiculous at this point. Enough with the green space. I suggest those who want it should purchase the land. After all the research which we are all aware and have opinions, this hotel is the best use of space. . Why do we need green space here? It’s not in a location conducive for it IMHO. And please correct the blog. Frank K is not the building manager of Costa Brava!

    Lastly, no one has answered my question I sent a few times. How does BIRA get to speak for all the residents when we are not polled? Shouldn’t there be a vote by residents? A questioner sent out regarding this topic?

    • I agree with you. I have loved for over ten year on the Venetian Causeway and I am very happy to know that we will finally have a decent hotel at decent prices for friends to stay at. I am 100 % for it. We should applaud and support this project. Those that want “the green park” why the never requested it before? We need much more a boutique hotel like tis one that a miniature green park !

    • I agree. That parcel of land will have a greater impact as commercial property than as green space. Actually, it would be a fiduciary travesty to turn a mere 25K square feet of land into green space. As commercial property it will generate significant revenue that will add to Miami Beach’s coffers and allow for the continued maintenance of the current “green space” throughout the city.

  3. Is there a petition or any formal way to oppose this construction?

  4. I agree with the person above this is a good location for a small hotel and not a park with traffic on west street a park does not work ..we have great green space in this area just look around. also lets poll the residents

  5. I guess the residents of Belle Isle don’t know anything about the history of Miami Beach. Carl Fisher had all his hotels exclusively on the bay side of the beach. Start reading and stop complaining.

  6. why in the world would you want green space there? who is going to go spend time in a green space surrounded by streets? green space is only as good as the (pedestrian) activity on its edges and the uses created within the space. What is suggested would result in a ‘green’ space very similar to what is there today – an empty lot full of broken bottles..

    • also when I hear the concern about traffic /parking hotel guests mostly arrive by taxi and do not drive

  7. everyone is forgetting that miami beach is a vavuum of affordable housing… where will all these bussers, waiters, and hotels front office staff live? will they continue to reside 5 to a studio?

  8. Hello,

    Green space? What about all that Green Space/Park that is next to the Venetian. The city poorly maintains most parks/green space as it is. I can’t wait for this eyesore to be improved and this hotel put in. What about that waste of a green space across from that old funeral home that is being renovated? There should be energy put into doing something with that. That could be a beautiful area with water features etc if properly utilized. If I had to guess I’d say the majority of residents that drive by these eye sores daily would approve the hotel plan. It’s just a small percentage of residents that actually have the energy to get involved. I support their enthusiasm but I don’t think it reflects the progressive attitude of the younger generation living and moving here.

  9. Wow…. BIRA and WAVNA… listen up !! The blog seems to be the poll that perry had suggested.
    I would like to finally correct something that the BIRA Blog and WAVNA have been spewing as fact in recent months both verbally and in writing.
    The relaxation of unneeded hotel parking space requirement was designed to spur hotel development in difficult areas. This ordinance was supposed to be for ALL of Miami Beach. South of Fifth was eventually carved out of the ordinance and so was the West Avenue Corridor by request of WAVNA. So, when “they” say that the City “added the 17th street parking to the more generous rules” this is either miscommunication or an intended bending of the truth. The fact is that hotel development came about because of the very intent of the ordinance put forward by commissioner Wolfson. The ordinance change is working !!
    Why is that so bad?? We live in a city and I say that good responsible development is needed and in fact wanted by what appears in this blog to be most of us.
    The fundamentally irresponsible drive to get a park in this corner surrounded by the back of the Vespa building, the soon to be built West Avenue Bridge, Dade blvd and 17th Street is not realistic. The parcel of land is $5mil to purchase and it would take millions to create the park out of that soggy swampy land. The city would also be forgoing MILLIONS of tax revenue dollars if they did not allow this land to be developed. We have a stunning Belle Island park and the Gibb park a few feet away.
    I appreciate the opinions of BIRA and WAVNA but they are not my opinions and I am entitled to mine too. I am always up to listen to the other side but the argument does not make sense to me.
    I am looking forward to the addition of the new hotel allowing my guests to stay in town at a reasonable rate, close to my home and in a nice facility.
    I LOVE Robert’s comments !! The west side of Miami Beach was all hotels and now… nobody wants hotels there. We are a travel destination city that used to have SIXTY THOUSAND hotel rooms. We now have only 16000 room and most are cost prohibitive to middle class tourists.

  10. Miguel Valdes-Mujica

    Sent from my iPhone

  11. BIRA’s voice purporting to represent the residents of Belle Isle’s opposition to a small, chic, affordable, well thought-out hotel as an added neighborhood amenity is no more accurate than the statement that Frank Kruszewski is the manager of Costa Brava.

  12. The Belle Isle “leaders” should address issues dealing with Belle Isle. This well designed proposal will help frame the 17th Street corridor and provide eyes on the street in an otherwise bleak and ugly section of the area. It is an embarassment to have such an unsightly lot as the gateway to the Venetian. Would those objectors prefer a Burger King or a KFC, both of which would be greater generators or traffic, take your pick!

  13. It is difficult to trust or rely on this blog when it contains inaccurate information. Frank Kruszewski is not the manager of Costa Brava and has not held this position for over 1 1/2 years! He is now disabled and unable to work. Readers need to be able to trust the facts in this blog.
    Be realistic-development is not all negative and park space is not always the best use of land.

  14. A green space should be created when it will be used and not as a means of stopping development. The Gibb park is only 50 yards away with stunning views of the Bay and roads on only 2 sides….why would anyone want to use a new park with roads on all sides when a beautiful park is so close?

    The City will receive much needed funds from the sale of the land and will earn continuous tax revenue going forward. This piece of land is an eye sore and the first thing that people see when entering South Beach. Just because a piece of land has not been developed does not mean it should never be developed….we need to develop responsibly…and I agree, better a nice small hotel than a Burger King.

    I understand that many who have lived here for 30 years don’t want to see any change, but think about 30 years ago when you moved here and potentially caused the area to change for those who had been here before you arrived. Our city is growing and changing for the better and that means at times that pieces of land that you have seen vacant for years will be developed….

    And why do these ‘neigborhood leaders’ feel they have the right to say they represent the point of view of all residents when it appears that they are only representing their own agenda?

  15. the city will get more revenue. what will it DO with the revenue? it will hire
    more relatives/friends/political parasites. then, we will build a THIRD city hall/
    in addition to three annexes already in place
    because we dont have enough room for 2000 city employees and 1000 vehicles. i would also note that this parcel was originally bought for a
    proposed shelter for battered women. the usual bait ‘n switch. thank you matti.

  16. OK..if this isn’t a textbook case of the tail wagging the dog, I don’t know what is. I’ve lived on the Venetian Cswy. for 15 yrs. The land has always been an empty lot owned by the Housing Authority. Where have the so-called “green crusaders” been all these years? I’m all for GREEN, but c’mon. There’s a beautiful, large green space and park on Belle Island & we have plenty of parks on the Beach. Now, it seems that a HOA with an agenda is trying to stop a great idea from succeeding. This chain of hotel is actually affordable, plus their drawing looks like they’re going to build a beautiful structure. I would love to have an affordable hotel nearby when business associates or relatives are in town. Who wants to pay the astronomical rates most SOBE hotels charge?

    Furthermore, most homeowners and residents on the Venetian Cswy. do not belong to a HOA. BIRA or any other group doesn’t speak for most of us. My neighbors and I were never asked for our opinions. I’d love to see this hotel come to our community. Imagine the tax revenue each room will produce for the City. That means better roads, sewers and other public works. That’s just good business sense for the City and for us.

    If any activist group was genuinely concerned about transforming the lot into a green space, they could have made their case years ago. Is it just coincidence that they’ve decided to target this property now when a bonafide business group has indicated they’d be willing to buy the empty lot and spend millions erecting a modern, beautiful and affordable hotel?

    Miami Beach is a progressive City and it survives on tourism generated dollars to operate. Hopefully, the City will have the foresight to separate the political agenda from this proposal and let the wheels of progress continue to roll forward.

  17. Small green spaces can become pocket parks and/or visual parks. Not every park needs active uses like pools, swing sets or tennis courts. 17th Street is very busy. Residents and tourists benefit merely by driving by clean well landscaped green spaces.

  18. I do not know who you mind having a green space there…????
    Sancho Photography Miami

    • It’s not about whether someone minds having a green space or not, it’s whether the location is the most suitable place for a green space given there is a park relatively close to it. Furthermore, the land is well suited for a hotel providing greater revenue for the city to take care of the parks and other services it already provides.

  19. I am in 100% support of the hotel being constructed. After seeing the proposed picture of the hotel on this blog, it would be a great addition to our neighborhood. I agree with the majority of the comments in favor of the hotel. This blog has not cited any reasonable opposition. I’ve lived on Belle Isle for over 8 years and this is not a space that should be designated as a green zone. We need a family friendly hotel for visitors of Belle Isle and Miami Beach. I hope it passes.

  20. Pingback: Planning board considers 17th Street hotel at 5 p.m.; expect a crowd | Belle Isle Blog

  21. Parks destroy the neighborhood. They breed crime, pollution, traffic, and they are harmful to children. I spit on parks. (paid for by ML :)

  22. Didn’t they say they were opening up that area to create a continuing street for West Avenue over to the Sunset Harbour area??

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