Tag Archives: miami beach

Venetian Causeway water main work begins Monday

Venetian Islands_010214_Water Line Work Begins FINAL watermainThe contractor on the Venetian islands right of way project begins work on Monday, Jan. 6, on new water lines on San Marino Islands, and the work will last three weeks.

There will be roadway closings and detours during the construction, as well as some parking restrictions in the immediate construction areas. For San Marino residents, there will be parking restrictions during construction times, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the city asks that residents put a contact number on their car dashboard to avoid being towed.

According to Lauren Firtel, the city spokesperson for the work, there should not be any water service disruptions during this phase of the construction work.

Miami Beach approves auto tag scanners for Venetian Causeway

The city of Miami Beach has decided to buy auto tag readers for police to use on the Venetian Causeway, The Miami Herald’s Christina Veiga reports.

The city also decided to buy a security camera to monitor the drawbridge between Belle Isle and Rivo Alto Island.

It’s something the Venetian Causeway Homeowner Association has been seeking, as Miami Beach police work with the neighborhood to combat home burglaries along the Biscayne Bay islands.

In addition, island residents were concerned about the death of a 65-year-old homeowner  who died after slow emergency response to the islands. At first, an open drawbridge was blamed for the delay, though it was learned the dispatcher took 14 minutes to put through the emergency call.

This week, Veiga reported that the 911 dispatcher who mishandled the call has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Wondering what Miami Beach plans for Memorial Day traffic and security? How to find out

The Miami Beach Police Department has scheduled something  called a “Memorial Day Symposium” to discuss traffic, security and crowd management preparations for the annual Urban Weekend.

The meeting happens at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8 at the Miami Beach Police Department Community Room, 1100 Washington Ave.

Last year, Miami Beach police had officers on nearly every corner of the Venetian Causeway islands, with signs posted warning drivers the causeways was for locals only.

A traffic control strategy squeezed eastbound traffic from Miami to Miami Beach from three lanes to one at certain times on the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways, and license tag scanners were used to check for drivers with outstanding arrest warrants.

Police used DUI checkpoints as well.

We’ll see if the plan for 2013 is as aggressive.

“The primary goal of the Police Department during this weekend is to maintain public safety for residents and visitors and to proactively address issues….to reduce potential future problems,” according to the city email announcing Wednesday’s meeting.

Planning Board approves 17th Street hotel; Design Review Board comes next

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

The Miami Beach Planning Board approved the proposed Marriott Residence Inn at 17th Street and West Avenue on Wednesday night, after more than four-and-one-half hours of discussion.

The project, which includes a sleek 116-room hotel designed by architect Kobi Karp and a 66-space mechanical parking garage, now will go before the Miami Beach Design Review Board.

The 6-1 vote came after board members heard from more than a dozen residents from different neighborhood associations who expressed concerns the hotel would add to traffic woes on 17th Street between Alton Road and Belle Isle.

They also heard from supporters of the project, who said an extended stay hotel in the residential part of Miami Beach would add convenient lodging for family and friends of Miami Beach residents.

The property is bounded by 17th Street, the Collins Canal, the path of the planned West Avenue Bridge and a parking lot that serves Boston Market and a retail and apartment building at the corner of 17th Street and Alton Road.

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

Board members praised the design of the hotel project, proposed to be built on land under contract to be purchased for $5 million from the Miami Beach Housing Authority by the Finvarb Group.

Finvarb owns several Marriott properties, including the Courtyard on Washington Avenue.

But most of the debate involved impact on 17th Street traffic from the project.

Henry Stolar, the only board member who voted against the project, did so after asking for the vote to be postponed so the development team and city staff could do more work on the 17th Street issues.

“I can’t imagine a better case for doing the right thing than giving this another month….otherwise we are in a position of just getting this done. I do not like haste in deciding something that has taken seven months while a political process takes its course.”

Board chairman Charles Urstadt said the decision was difficult because he believed the project is a good one, but the concerns about traffic were legitimate.

“We are here to balance the greater good to the public with the rights of the property owner.” he said. “We can’t force this to become a park, we have certain limits on what we can do.”

To try and address traffic, board members asked for a slim median on 17th Street to keep eastbound traffic on 17th Street from attempting left turns into the property, and a requirement that a fourth valet be added during peak business hours at the hotel to prevent cars from backing up from the hotel entrance into the street.

Developer Ron Finvarb told board members the hotel would be something the city will be proud of. “This will be a Residence Inn by Marriott. It must adhere to very high standards,” Finvarb said.

“It will not have any accessory uses that will create additional impact or noise…. With all of the conditions we have offered…the hotel will only benefit the neighborhood. This will not be a party hotel. It will be a state of the art hotel with great design and service.”

Another Venetian curiosity: Ruby Foo’s on the Causeway

We think Rub Foo's closed back in the 1960s.

We think Ruby Foo’s closed back in the 1960s.

We know Ruby Foo’s — the Times Square Chinese restaurant and sushi bar at 49th and Broadway. It’s a Midtown landmark.

The matchbook cover.

The matchbook cover.

But only recently did we learn that there used to be a Ruby Foo on the Beach — right off the Venetian Causeway, where it meets Dade Boulevard east of  Belle Isle.

First, Nine Island resident Josh Fisher turned up the old black and white photo. And then we found this matchbook cover on eBay — with the old style phone number without area code and location — at Miami Beach and the Venetian Causeway.

According to historian Seth Bramson’s 2005 book, Miami Beach, Ruby Foo’s “was a favorite for Chinese food before Thai, Indian and Vietnamese became popular. Some Beachites vaguely recall the eatery relocating to 41st Street, but in any location it is a happy memory….’

Urban flood advisory for Miami Beach

If the rains of the last two days weren’t enough — and they left water standing in Sunset Harbour — the National Weather Service just posted an urban flood advisory for Miami Beach with today’s deluge.

By noon, three to four inches of rain had been recorded along the Tuttle Causeway, and about three inches on Miami Beach.  More thunderstorms are expected this afternoon.


Miami Beach to discuss ban on West Avenue hotel developments

The Miami Beach Planning Board is scheduled to consider a couple items important to West Avenue residents today:

– The proposed apartment and retail complex that includes the old South Shore Hospital building called 600 Alton Road;

– New rules governing that would ban new hotel uses on West Avenue and in the Palm View Neighborhood.

The West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association has pushed for the hotel restrictions, driven in large part by issues with the Mondrion Hotel, a luxury property at 1100 West Avenue, and the Bikini Hotel, a party-themed property between 12th and 13th streets and West.

The association is encouraging West Avenue residents to attend the hearing, scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., and has an online petition residents can access to show their support for the restrictions.

The proposal also addresses the Palm View neighborhood, located south of Dade Boulevard and north of 17th Street between Lenox Court and Meridian Avenue.

In the  staff report of the proposal, Miami Beach planners said the Planning Board might want to consider some exceptions to an outright ban. Among them: conditional uses, limits on hours of operations for restaurants, prohibitions on outdoor uses.


Alton Road construction begins Monday at Belle Isle’s doorstep

FDOT map shows construction schedule.

FDOT map shows construction schedule.

The long-awaited Alton Road construction project — a $32 million, 28-month effort to reconstruct the key west Miami Beach roadway from Fifth Street to Michigan Avenue — kicks off on Monday.

And the first area where roadwork will happen is the northern section of the project, from Dade Boulevard north to Michigan, according to the construction schedule.

Next week, the Florida Department of Transportation will set up equipment and material and begin removing palms, landscaping and curbing. They may close one northbound or southbound lane.

By the week of April 8,work crews will begin excavating the roadway, installing the new water main and setting up temporary street lighting. One southbound lane may be closed and the southbound left turn lane on Alton Road at Dade Boulevard will be converted to a through travel lane. By the end of April, the excavation work will extend south to 17th Street

Meanwhile, the first work on the south part of the project will involve checking for underground lines on Fifth, 10th and 14th streets in preparation for drainage work. Lanes may be closed between Alton and West Avenue and West and Bay Road.

Ah, the fun begins.


17th Street hotel developer to meet with Belle Isle Residents Association

The developers of a Marriott Residence Inn proposed to be built on a sliver of land between 17th Street and the Collins Canal will present plans to members of the Belle Isle Residents Association on Thursday, April 4.

The 116-room hotel is proposed by the Finvarb Group, developer and owner of at least seven Marriott properties across the country, included the Marriott Courtyard on Washington Avenue in South Beach.

The land where the hotel would be built, north of 17th Street between Alton Road and West Avenue, is owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority. Finvarb has negotiated to buy it, assuming the hotel project is approved by the city.

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 controversial decision was opposed by the Belle Isle Residents Association and the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association.

At the meeting BIRA representatives complained that the city Parking and Transportation Committee was not asked to review the parking policy change, and the hotel project had not been presented to Belle Isle homeowners. Michael Larkin, the lawyer representing Finvarb, said there had been a meeting scheduled with Belle Isle but it was cancelled because of a death in the Finvarb family.

The project still must be approved by the Miami Beach Planning Board.

Miami Beach may reduce parking for hotels, with special rule for project 17th Street and West Avenue

Miami Beach commissioners are scheduled to vote Wednesday on new parking rules that would reduce the number of parking spaces required for hotels in historic districts.

The proposed change, as approved by the city Planning Board, would only apply to the retention of historic buildings — with an exception specifically designed to enable the construction of a new hotel on the north side of 17th Street and West Avenue.

What’s so special about this hotel? A good question for the city commission to answer. Because the parking rules on the agenda for Wednesday seem to be written with that one project in mind.

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Some background: The Miami Beach Housing Authority owns the pie-shaped sliver of land south of the Collins Canal and just east of the proposed West Avenue bridge, which would extend West Avenue north across 17th Street, the canal and  Dade Boulevard, linking with the Sunset Harbour neighborhood.

The Housing Authority has a contract to sell the land to the Finvarb Group — a company headed by Robert Finvarb that owns and operates a slew of Marriotts in South Florida and across the country.

Finvarb has proposed building a five-story Residence Inn by Marriott on the property.  Designed by architect Kobi Karp, it would have five floors, 116 rooms and only 66 parking spaces in a mechanical garage.

The land sale is contingent on the approval of the hotel project.
And the hotel project can’t go forward without the change in the city’s parking rules.

The developers have repeatedly asked the Planning Board to defer consideration of the hotel because the proposed number of parking spaces assumes the city will lessen parking requirements.

And the parking ordinance analysis the city will vote on Wednesday actually singles out the Finvarb project to be exempted from the requirement that the reduction be “only applicable to retention of historic buildings.”

There are areas where the parking reduction won’t apply at all, because of concerns about parking shortages and traffic congestion. One is the neighborhood south of Fifth Street. Another is the West Avenue corridor, which they city contends ends at the doorstep of the Finvarb property — at West Avenue and 17th Street.

The Housing Authority/Finvarb property is across the street from the West Avenue corridor (and you could argue, that when the West Avenue bridge is built, it will be on the corridor.

Nevertheless, specific  language in the staff recommendation to the city commission mentions Finvarb and this exception to the rule: the proposed hotel would get the .5 space per unit break as long as the hotel agrees it will not have a restaurant, pool, bar or special events open to the public.

The Residence Inn’s restaurant and pool will only be used by hotel guests.

The Belle Isle Residents Association, the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association and and Miami Beach United have opposed the new parking rule, and the new hotel. They argue that 17th Street between Alton Road and West Avenue is one of the city’s most congested areas, and adding the hotel — in fact, creating special rules to accommodate the hotel — just makes no sense.

In a letter sent Monday to the Miami Beach mayor and commissioners, Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer asked that a decision on the parking rule be deferred so the city’s Transportation and Parking Committee could review it.

Diffenderfer is a committee member, and noted that the group typically reviews ordinances that would change parking requirements.

“I have been a member for five years and I am insulted that an amendment as important and controversial as this has not been presented to us,” he wrote. “There is clearly a breakdown in the process.”

The Belle Isle residents group has been seeking a presentation from zoning lawyer Michael Larkin for months. Larkin has met with selected island residents, but not in an open meeting that anyone could attend.

“Many residents have expressed outrage that the City would even consider reducing parking requirements to allow this type of development on that tiny piece of property which is mere feet away from 17th Street and Alton Road – one of the most congested and dysfunctional intersections in our city,” Diffenderfer said in his letter to the city commission.