Category Archives: Condomania

Issues and aggravation in our buildings, from decisions on renovations to the antics of owners.

Sunpass on the Venetian Causeway: transition happens Aug. 29

What Miami-Dade’s causeway folks have been saying would happen for more more than two years is about to become reality: the Venetian Causeway will convert to SunPass for tolls and annual pass use starting Friday, Aug. 29.

That means no one will need to stop at the toll Plaza on Biscayne Island; instead, SunPass will either register their car transponder or bill them toll-by-plate. The county predicts it will reduce the backups at the plaza during busy times.

Even though the county plans to close the easternmost span between Biscayne Island and Miami in the fall for a reconstruction that will take six to nine months, the SunPass conversion is moving forward.

If you are a Venetian annual pass holder (either an island resident or employed on the island) you’ll be getting a form in the mail that will enable you to register your SunPass so you won’t be billed.

You’ll need to provide your transponder number and plate number to link your plan account for the Venetian with your transponder to avoid per-trip fees.

Here’s the notification the county sent to Belle Isle condo managers:

From: Tolls (PWWM) [mailto:TOLLS@miamidade.gov]
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2014 3:03 PM
Cc: Bauman, Mike (PWWM)
Subject: SunPass Update

Dear Venetian Causeway Neighbors,

We are pleased to announce that the transition to SunPass is tentatively scheduled for Friday, August 29, 2014. When the conversion is complete, drivers will have improved travel time and traffic flow across the Causeway. Please be advised that in order to avoid per trip or Toll-By-Plate charges, each motorist must have a SunPass transponder. For annual plan holders, their account will be linked to their SunPass account so that they will not incur any additional charges.

In an effort to keep you informed of the progress:

– A letter has been sent to all current annual plan holders to obtain their SunPass transponder numbers

– All plan holder accounts will be updated with the SunPass transponder data

– Flyers and other informational material will be distributed in the lanes and available at the Venetian Customer Service Center

– Signage announcing the change will be in place–

E-mail address tolls@miamidade.gov has been established to address questions and concerns

We will provide additional updates as needed.

Thank you,

Causeways Division

Water restored, 3 Belle Isle buildings face boil water order during weekend

The "geyser" on Belle Isle. (photo by Fane Lozman).

The “geyser” on Belle Isle. (photo by Fane Lozman).

Today’s water main break was quickly contained, but three buildings on Belle Isle will have a boil water order for the next two days: 3 Island Avenue, 5 Island Avenue and 9 Island….

Belle Isle springs another leak; water is out….and back on

The "geyser" on Belle Isle. (photo by Fane Lozman).

The “geyser” on Belle Isle. (photo by Fane Lozman).

For the third time in the last two years, we’ve got a big water main break on Belle Isle.

This one is a geyser. At 9 Island Avenue, building management used the building communication system to tell all residents at 10:15 a.m. that the water  main on Belle Isle had ruptured, and all units would be without water for an undetermined period.

Update at 11:07 a.m.: The “geyser” has been capped and city workers are on the scene. 9 Island residents have been told to turn off their air conditioning units because the water is off.

Update at 11:30 a.m.: Water leak capped, service to be restored shortly, boil 48-hour water order expected.

12:55 p.m. update: Power service is returning, but a boil water order will be in effect for 3 Island Avenue, Island Terrace and 9 Island Avenue condos for 48 hours, according to Miami Beach spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez.

 

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Smoky Belle Isle Monday morning

Smoky South Florida morning.

Smoky South Florida morning.

A brush fire in West Broward and South Florida fog gave us a nearly zero visibility morning on Monday.

The view of smoky Belle Isle from the Flamingo.

The view of smoky Belle Isle from the Flamingo.

Still no water on Belle Isle; boil water order will be in effect when service is restored

Miami Beach public works crews continue their work on the damaged water main on Belle Isle, and island residents remain without water — and air conditioning, if their building has a cooling tower.

Nine Island Avenue residents were advised by property manager Scott Parker that when water service is restored, the island will be under a boil water order for 48 hours. That is, water will need to be boiled before use in cooking or for drinking.

Towering highrise proposed for West Avenue

Rendering of proposed rental/retail at South Shore.

Rendering of earlier proposed rental/retail at South Shore.

Remember developer Russell Galbut’s plans for 600 Alton Road?

In early 2013, the developer had a series of community meetings for a proposal to use the property — between West Avenue and Alton Road and Fifth and Seventh streets including the old (and abandoned) South Shore Hospital building — as a large rental-retail commercial project.

He got some neighborhood buy in.

In summary, the project called for 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant uses on the ground floor, 444 apartments, 1,073 parking spaces below ground. A new seven-story building was to be built on the 500 block of Alton Road, and a five-story building on the 600 block. The South Shore Hospital building, 10 stories, would be rehabbed and included.

That was the tallest part of the project.

Fast-forward a year. Tonight, Galbut’s Crescent Heights company is teaming with Jorge Perez’s Related Companies to pitch the neighborhood on a 50-story tower on the site.

Belle Isle Blog believes it would be the tallest building on Miami Beach — or at least the one with the most floors (Green and Blue Diamond have those triangles on top of their 44 floors, rising to 559 feet).

The meeting happens at 6:30 p.m. at the Related South Beach Sales Center, 91 Collins Avenue.

There is a a model of the tower on display from all day today at that center.

Palau project to move forward

A rendering of Palau at Sunset Harbour.

A rendering of Palau at Sunset Harbour.

The developers of the Palau condo — the condo-retailed project that includes the old Mark’s Cleaners site — have made peace with their Sunset Harbour neighbors, The Miami Herald is reporting.

According to an agreement provided last week to the city of Miami Beach, the developers of Palau — which include the Disney family — will position the  project further back from the bridge to Sunset Islands 3 and 4, provide greater setbacks of the retail space. There will be a public plaza near the bridge as well.

Sunset Island residents in March persuaded the Miami Beach Planning Board to reconsider an approval its approval of the project.

The project, designed by Kobi Karp, includes 50 condo units in addition to 11,000 square feet of retail space.

 

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).

Time machine: a Belle Isle mansion at a bargain price

The Adams estate made way for Belle Towers and Belle Plaza.

The Adams estate made way for Belle Towers, Belle Plaza and Costa Brava.

Ever plumb through the historical magazines and newspapers at the Sunday Lincoln Road market?

One of our neighbors from Belle Towers found a gem Sunday.

“I walked up to talk to the magazine lady at the flea market and this guy asked about this house. He lives in Belle Meade and thought this was a mistake! I said no its where I live. He was buying it. I said can I buy it? Lol. He said no. So I took a picture at least.”

You can click on the photo to read the description, but the highlights are: The main house had 11 bedrooms, eight baths, a 75×35 foot music room with a Aeolian pipe organ, and an eight car garage. Oh, and 650 feet of water frontage. All for $350,000. Such as deal!

The Adams estate on the southeast end of Belle Isle.

The Adams estate on the southeast end of Belle Isle.

Joseph Adams owned a big chunk of Belle Isle back in the day. His sprawling estate covered the property where developers built Belle Tower (16 Island Ave., in 1958, Belle Plaza (20 Island Ave., 1962, and Costa Brava (11 Island Ave., 1972).

Adams was a millionaire who came to Florida in 1924. He was an author and inventor who developed something known as the “oil-cracking process,” a way of making larger volumes of gasoline from crude oil by applying continuous heat and pressure. In 1919 and 1920, he obtained patents for the process and machinery that were sold to the Texas Oil Company (which became Texaco) and Standard Oil. He later had a $1 million tax battle with the IRS over income from the patents.

He was one of the founders of the University of Miami, and the boathouse on his Belle Isle estate was the first location of UM’s Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. He willed it to UM in his estate (he died in 1941 at age 74).

This photo shows the Joseph Adams and JC Penney estates

This photo shows the Adams and Penney estates

When President-elect Herbert Hoover stayed at the J.C. Penney estate (now 9 Island Avenue) for four weeks starting on Jan. 22, 1929, some 30 staffers and journalists stayed at the adjacent Adams estate, thanks to an agreement between Penney and Adams.

Hoover stayed on Belle Isle before his inauguration (back then, presidential inaugurations were in March), and went fishing on Adams yacht, the Amitie.

The house briefly served as the home of Miami Beach’s first Episcopal Church (All Souls, now on Pine Tree Drive), which was allowed to hold services in the massive music room after Adams death in 1941.

 

West Avenue Corridor group to hold first-ever annual meeting

The West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association — a  community group that’s been extremely active on issues from bicycle and pedestrian safety to zoning and flooding issues — holds its first annual meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Mirador 1200 condominium.

With leadership from co-chairs Christine Florez and Gayle Durham, the WAVNA community group has drawn serious attention from Miami Beach officials and developers who want to do business in the area. Florez, by the way, recently filed papers to run for the Miami Beach City Commission.

Key items on the West Avenue agenda this year:

–How the city and the Florida Department of Transportation handle the reconstruction of Alton Road and new pumping stations to reduce flooding;

The proposal from Crescent Heights to replace South Shore Hospital with a large new rental/retail complex called 600 Alton Road. The proposal goes to the Miami Beach Planning Board on Feb. 26, and the Design Review Board on March 6.

– How Miami Beach deals with valet parking and neighborhood concerns associated with the renovation of Southgate Towers on the east side of West Avenue and 10th Street and plans to open a 200-seat restaurant with outdoor seating and valet parking on that property.

– The efforts of the Bikini Hostel, 1255 West Ave., to acquire a liquor license. The association launched a petition drive to try and block the granting of the liquor license.