After discussions that went late into the night, the Miami Beach city commissioners made two moves Wednesday that will impact our area:
— They approved new rules for hotel parking in historic districts, reducing the requirement to a half space for every hotel room — up to 100 rooms. Because commissioners included a proposed hotel development at 17th Street and West Avenue in the area affected by the change, the proposed 116-room Marriott Residence Inn won’t need parking relief. The vote was 6-1, with Mayor Matti Bower opposed.
— After nearly four hours of debate, they asked the city’s Design Review Board to reconsider its approval of a development called the Palau at Sunset Harbour. Backed by the Roy Disney family, Palau includes 50 condo units and more than 11,000 square feet of retail space designed by local architect Kobi Karp on the site of the old Mark’s Quality Cleaners and stalled Cypress Bay project at the entrance to two of the four the Sunset Islands.
In supporting the project last fall, city planning staff called it “one of the most significant residential projects that will be developed in the city for a long time to come.“
At Wednesday night’s commission hearing, attorney Tucker Gibbs, representing Sunset Island homeowners, argued that the DRB didn’t adequately consider the impact of the five-story project on view corridors.
The discussion of the hotel parking rule was nearly as contentious. It didn’t start until after 9 p.m., and concluded at 10:55 p.m. In the end, commissioners said the change would spur needed hotel renovation in the historic district, and that requiring one space for every hotel unit was unnecessary in areas where most visitors walk to restaurants and shopping, and often don’t rent cars.
Representatives of the Belle Isle Residents Association, West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association and Miami Beach United argued that the parking reduction should not be applied to the 17th Street property, which is owned by the city Housing Authority but is under contract to be sold for development to the Finvarb group, which has developed many Marriott properties.
Scott Diffenderfer, the Belle Isle association president and a member of the city Parking and Transportation Committee, asked commissioners to refer the parking proposal to that group, which had not yet been asked to review it.
“I’m pissed,” Diffenderfer said when he spoke to commissioners after 9:30 p.m. “I think you are trying to wedge a hotel into a piece of property that a developer does not even own yet.” He said he was “furious that this did not come in front of parking” before being voted on by commissioners.
Commissioners said the proposal had been discussed at a variety of other public venues, and ought to move forward.
While Diffenderfer and other opponents said the hotel at West and 17th would increase traffic in a very congested area, some residents from Belle Isle said the hotel would be a neighborhood amenity, giving residents a hotel option in the neighborhood when friends or family visit.