Belle Isle residents gave a The Standard hotel an uneven reception to its proposal to tear down its east wing to make room for a 160-space mechanical parking structure and a new, two- story building.
In a presentation Wednesday night at the hotel, 40 Island Ave., the lawyer for The Standard’s development team, Monica Entin, said the expansion “will benefit the neighborhood.”
She said it would reduce traffic, won’t add any hotel rooms, and will enclose the kitchen for the hotel and therefore reduce noise.
“We aren’t seeking any additional uses or hours of operations,” she told residents.
But residents who attended the meeting from the north side of Belle Isle — where The Standard is located — expressed concern that the increased scale from the expansion would have a negative impact on their quality of life.
The Standard team, which included architect Arnold Marcus and specialists in traffic, acoustics and landscaping, outlined a construction plan that begins with demolishing the one-story wing of rooms at the hotel.
A robotic parking structure would rise just behind the three story lobby/spa building that would be roughly 45 feet high — about the same height at the building in front of it.
Behind the parking structure, The Standard would build a two-story wing of rooms.
If the project moves forward, it would take about eight months to a year to get city approval for the changes design, and the demolition and construction process would take more than a year, after that developer representatives said.
But nothing happens unless the Miami Beach City Commission okays the demolition of the original wing. If that is approved, the city planning and design boards would be next in the process to evaluate the garage design and the new two-story wing.
The Standard team emphasized how aspects of their plan could lessen impact on Belle Isle residents.
— While the 160-space garage would mean cars could park on site, they said it would actually decrease Belle Isle traffic. Because the hotel and spa has no on-site parking, each visitor to the hotel, spa or restaurant who arrives in their own car generates multiple trips at the hotel, traffic engineer Joaquin Vargas said — one into the hotel, then two more as a valet and trailing shuttle bus drive to a rented parking lot in Sunset Harbour, and then a trip back.
The process of parking that single car takes time, and as a result, cars often back up at the porte-cochère at The Standard front door — and so taxis sometimes stop on Island Avenue to drop off hotel guests.
“If we have a garage on site, it will alleviate” much of the traffic and congestion, Vargas said.
— The parking garage walls would be clad with landscaping — “a living wall of plants,” the landscape architect said — to lessen its visual impact.
— The new two-story wing of rooms will have interior hallways, and all the balconies would face the hotel’s center courtyard, rather than the bungalows on Farrey Lane. That will decrease noise affecting residents east of the hotel, they said.
— The Standard will install acoustical panels on the east side of the complex, and well as panels around the air conditioning chillers, said Don Washburn, a sound expert hired by The Standard.
But residents — especially those on Farrey Lane — were not pleased. They said the new garage will tower over their small homes, and change their quality of life.
Farrey Lane resident Frank Scottoline said he now looks out from his kitchen to trees and blue skies. If the garage is built, he said, all he will see is a big wall, blocking any view and light.
The shift of auto activity from the front of the hotel on Island Avenue to the east side of the property also will impact the Farrey Lane residents, they said. At one point, the homeowners were asked if they would prefer if the traffic would stay as it is.
“Yes,” they answered emphatically.