Category Archives: Development

Projects proposed on Belle Isle and nearby, including buildings and roads.

Plan for a Venetian bridge closure — and it may last two nights

This may change your driving direction tonight:

With scant warning, Miami-Dade County Public Works belatedly announced the west Venetian Causeway drawbridge — the one between the mainland and Biscayne Island — will be closed Wednesday night and possibly Thursday night.

The closure will begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday and last until 6 a.m. Thursday. It might be repeated on the same schedule, beginning Thursday evening.

The county gave the news to homeowners groups Tuesday afternoon:

Beginning on Wednesday, April 9, from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m., the West Venetian Bascule Bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic while crews install metal plates along the lanes of traffic.  The areas on the roadway to be plated have been identified as having deterioration.  It may be necessary to close the bridge again on Thursday, April 10 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. depending on the progress of Wednesday evening’s work activities.

There will be more work on the bridge in coming months, the county said.

It you need to get to the mainland during those hours, you’ll have to use the MacArthur or Julia Tuttle causeways.

What Venetian residents need to know about SunPass and our causeway

If you live on one of the Venetian Way islands, you’ve probably received the renewal application for your annual causeway pass. Each spring, property owners can pay $24 a year to renew their C-Pass transponder, and can cross the causeway toll booth all year for free.

You’ve probably heard that at some point this summer, the C-Pass devices will be replaced by SunPass. That will mean changes in how the causeway operates.

Your Belle Isle Blog spoke with Miami-Dade County Causeways Division Chief Mike Bauman about the timetable for the change, and what it will mean to Venetian Isle residents.

Q. When will the switch to SunPass take place? What will C-Pass holders be required to do?

Bauman: We are on track for the summer, though I cannot nail down a precise date. That is dictated by the Turnpike, which oversees SunPass. When we have a firm date, C-Pass holders will be given plenty of time to buy a SunPass device or have a device they already own programmed to enable them to pass through the toll plaza toll free.

For now, Venetian Island property owners should renew their C-user agreements as they have in past years.

Q. When the change takes place, will we be able to do it by mail or will we have to go the the tollbooth building on the causeway?

Bauman: We recognize it is a chore to come in and renew. We’d like to streamline that process. Back in 2005, after the toll plaza was rebuilt, we came out to the buildings on Belle Isle and held a meeting for island homeowners. We may try to do that again. People will have plenty of notice.

Q. We’ve heard that there will no longer be toll booth operators or toll arms at the toll booth on Biscayne Isle. Is that true?

Bauman: Yes. The toll plaza itself will remain in place. But there will no longer be any cash collected at any of the lanes. There will be one or two lanes open in each direction at all times. It will be free-flowing traffic. It is all electronic. No one needs to stop. Drivers will slow to a safe speed, but will not have to stop.

Q. Do you expect that traffic will still back up in the eastbound direction, as frequently happens at busy times?

Bauman: This change will eliminate those backups. There will be no need for cars to stop at the toll plaza.

Q. Some residents worry that the change will lead to more traffic and speeding on Venetian Way. Do you expect that?

Bauman: We don’t.  The speed limit will still be 25 mph. We will be installing speed feedback signs on causeway, to warn people if they are exceeding the limit, and that is coming soon….The narrowness of the lanes at toll plaza causes people to slow down. So does the narrowness of the lanes on the islands.

Q. Why not leave all three tolls lanes open in each direction?

Bauman: There is no reason for more than two. Because cars won’t have to stop and pay, two lanes will be enough to accommodate the flow of traffic. Three lanes would lead to cars jockeying to get in front of each other when the road narrows.

Q. Is it possible to have variable toll rates on the causeway to discourage its use during busy times?

Bauman: Unfortunately, that won’t work on the Venetian. Imagine if the bridge goes up and there is no traffic doing through. That would cause a toll increase, but not because of the traffic volume. Variable tolling responds to congestion, so that wouldn’t work.

Other times, there might be additional traffic because there is an accident on the MacArthur Causeway and traffic is diverted. Then we’d be penalizing them for getting into a traffic jam.

Q. Could the toll be higher?

Bauman: Those decision are always ultimately made by county commissioners and may be recommended by staff.

Q. For many years, people who were not Venetian Causeway property owners were allowed to by C-Pass transponders for $90 a year. Is that still the case?

Bauman: As of April 1 of this year, you will need to be a Venetian Isles renter or an employee in a an island location to buy to those passes. Others will not be allowed to purchase the $90 pass. (this corrects an earlier version of this post, which said the $90 passes would be eliminated entirely).

Q. We’ve heard that the $24 annual fee for property owners may be eliminated, because the causeway was originally built by a private developer, and the legal agreement transferring it to the county required it be free to property owners. Is it possible the $24 annual administrative fee will be eliminated?

Bauman: That is under discussion at various levels of the county, with public works and the county attorney’s office.

Q. Any advice for Venetian homeowners?

Bauman: Just to advise people that everyone will be required to have a SunPass to have the annual plan. You need to have proof you own property on the causeway, and it helps if the car you are registering has the address of your property.

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.

Belle Isle resident leads the fight against Miami Beach water pollution

Dave Doebler

Dave Doebler

There’s a great profile in today’s Miami Herald of Belle Isle resident David Doebler, who has devoted amazing energy to cleaning debris from Miami Beach’s waterways to keep them — and the city drainage system — clean.

Doebler already has received the key to the city from Miami Beach, and his pesonal crusade has led the Beach to look into cleaning the drains more frequently.

He also put together two Slide Share presentations on all the bad stuff he found in Beach waterways.

Take a look.

Alton Road construction promises a big southbound squeeze all on Thursday

The city of Miami Beach says southbound Alton Road will be reduced to one lane and detoured between 19th and 20th streets from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

That’s the area south of Michigan near Sunset Harbour. It could even more seriously slow the southbound drive on Alton toward Sunset Harbour — a pretty tough slog aready.

Be prepared.

Venetian streetscape expands to Rivo Alto this week

Workers on the Venetian Island streetscape project will begin water main work on Rivo Alto this week, the city of Miami Beach says, while construction on DiLido Island continues on East and West DiLido Drive.

On Rivo Alto, the work is expected to start midweek on East Rivo Alto Drive from the causeway south, and on West Rivo Alto Drive from the causeway north.

Workers will dig a trench in the middle of the road for new pipes. The work will mean that some parts of the road will be closed and parking will be restricted between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

 

County work on Venetian Causeway will close lanes near toll plaza

Miami-Dade County starts two days of work Friday morning at 6 a.m. that could slow passage through the Venetian Causeway.

According to Miami-Dade spokeswoman Gayle Love:

On Friday, February 28, 2014 and Saturday, March 1, 2014, one lane in each direction of the Venetian Toll Plaza will be unavailable for traffic in order to perform needed modifications to the roadway surface.  This work will begin at 6 a.m. each day and is expected to be completed by Saturday evening, weather permitting.

 Be careful out there.

Get ready for continuing construction at Belle Isle’s doorstep

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

A Marriott Residence Inn on 17th Street. A West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal. A streetscape project in Sunset Harbour.

If you think the maze of detours and clamor of construction equipment just east of Belle Isle will end with the completion of the Alton Road project  (and the Venetian Isles streetscape), think again.

There’s a series of new projects in the queue, Belle Isle residents learned  Wednesday night at a meeting at the Belle Plaza condominium.  Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer gave this overview:

residence-inn-site

The lot is the triangle shape northwest of the A

The Marriott Residence Inn the city approved last spring for the pie-shaped property at West Avenue between 17th Street and the Collins Canal is in the process of being permitted by the city, and work could begin in a month or two. The city approved a 116-room hotel designed by architect Kobi Karp for the site.

Commissioners chose this configuration for the bridge.

The city chose this configuration for the bridge.

– Design work on the proposed West Avenue Bridge, which would cross the Collins Canal and link Sunset Harbour with the West Avenue area near Epicure, is moving forward, though construction won’t begin until the Alton Road project is complete.

The city commission approved construction of the bridge in April 2012. The bridge will include one northbound lane and two southbound lanes, one of them for cars turning left on to 17th Street from Sunset Harbour. There will be a sidewalk and bike path in each direction.

– The city is preparing documents to enable bidding for a streetscape  project in Sunset Harbour that will include solving the flooding problem and installing new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping. Bids will be sought this summer.

Belle Isle residents received updates on a variety of other issues:

– Alton Road reconstruction. The city and the Florida Department of Transportation are trying to get the project finished by December 2014, seven months earlier than projected, by working longer hours Belle Isle residents will get updates on a variety of public and private construction projects on and around our island when the Residents Association meets Tuesday night.
Among the items on the agenda:
– We’ll learn the latest timetable for switching the toll collection on the Veneitan Causeway to Sunpass, and how that may affect annual pass renewals, which happen each May.
– The Florida Department of Transportation will provide an update on the Alton Road construction project, which has disrupted traffic throught the east side of Miami Beach.
– The city will report on the sulphur odor on Belle Isle and around the park, as well as the park landscaping.
– The city will explain the delays on the Collins Canal bikepath, a partially completed project that was due to be complete last year. The pathway is mostly done, but lighting and landscaping are not.
– We’re get a report on the Sunset Harbour pumping station project, designed to reduce flooding in that neighborhood.
– The Belle Isle Residents Association will update several development projects near us — the 17th Street Marriott Residence Inn, proposed apartment on Belle Isle at the Belle Isle Key apartment location and a proposed parking expansion and renovation at The Standard.

The meeting happens at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave. There is a meet and greet at 6 p.m. and the meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Sent from my iPad on construction. FDOT representative Enrique Tamayo told homeowners that FDOT will try to minimize the impact on neighborhoods, but a major project like this is very disruptive.

Venetian Causeway conversion to SunPass. This is expected to happen in late summer. Venetian Island property owners with C-Pass transponders will be contacted so they can register their SunPass devices to work properly on at the toll plaza. We’ll still pay an annual $24 fee; other causeway users will be charged a toll each time on their SunPass. There will no longer be toll takers at the plaza.

The city has switched from iPark devices to a PaybyPhone, a smartphone app to allows you to charge metered parking to a credit card. The new app will be in service in a month or so.

– Proposed Standard Hotel renovation and new parking structure. This idea, floated by the hotel in January 2013, isn’t being pushed by the owners. They received a lukewarm reception from the neighborhood last year, and haven’t submitted a formal proposal to the city.

Miami Beach says Alton roadwork will be done by end of 2014

Here’s something to celebrate: The city of Miami Beach says the Alton Road reconstruction should be finished by the end of 2014, about seven months early.

Mayor Philip Levine announced the news in a press release after he and City Manager Jimmy Morales met with state officials on Thursday, including Gov. Rick Scott in Tallahassee.

In his release, Levine said “In addition to alleviating traffic congestion, this project has a flooding mitigation component that includes the installation of three new pump stations that will help alleviate the street flooding.  Along with the new pump stations, the City will be strategically installing an additional 30 and 40 pump stations throughout Miami Beach to reduce the flooding.”

Sounds good to us. Let’s hope the new deadline gets met.

(apologies to all on the original post, which said the work would be done by the end of 2013 — typo. The blog needs more sleep!)

Belle Isle residents to discuss traffic, development issues

Belle Isle residents will get updates on a variety of public and private construction projects on and around our island when the Residents Association meets Tuesday night.
Among the items on the agenda:
– We’ll learn the latest timetable for switching the toll collection on the Venetian Causeway to Sunpass, and how that may affect annual pass renewals, which happen each May.
– The Florida Department of Transportation will provide an update on the Alton Road construction project, which has disrupted traffic throughout the east side of Miami Beach.
– The city will report on the sulphur odor on Belle Isle and around the park, as well as the park landscaping.
– The city will explain the delays on the Collins Canal bikepath, a partially completed project that was due to be finished last year. The pathway is mostly done, but lighting and landscaping are not.
– We’re get a report on the Sunset Harbour pumping station project, designed to reduce flooding in that neighborhood.
– The Belle Isle Residents Association will update several development projects near us — the 17th Street Marriott Residence Inn, proposed apartment on Belle Isle at the Belle Isle Key apartment location and a proposed parking expansion and renovation at The Standard.

The meeting happens at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave. There is a meet and greet at 6 p.m. and the meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Sent from my iPad