Category Archives: sea-level rise

Miami Beach is getting ready to renovate Maurice Gibb park; will the playground camp out on Belle Isle?

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The view of Belle Isle from Maurice Gibb Park.

One of the next steps in the rebuilding of Sunset Harbour is the renovation and raising of Maurice Gibb Park.

The park, which features a popular playground used by kids in Sunset Harbour, Belle Isle and other Venetian Isles, has been rough around the edges for a while now.

The southeast corner has been fenced off from the public for more than two years, the result of the installation of a drainage pump and the discovery of environmental issues underground. Old timers may remember that there used to be a gas station on the corner of the park at Purdy Avenue and 17th Street. The tanks leaked.

And with the raising of Purdy Avenue on the east side of the park, it’s become a couple foot step-down from street level.

So the city is planning an environmental clean-up, land-raising and renovation for the park named for the late BeeGee and Miami Beach resident. The park includes a large playground, a wooden baywalk, bathrooms and boat launches (named for former legislator Barry Kutun).

Last week, the Miami Beach City Commission approved a request for proposals to hire architectural and engineering firms to develop an “environmental mitigation and protection plan, and conduct the design, permitting, bid and award” work necessary so companies can bid to hired and work can be done.

Once the construction contracts are awarded — that’s a ways off — the park will be closed, most likely in phases.

Parents are wondering what to do while the playground is closed. One possibility is to temporarily move the equipment to Belle Isle Park. That will be discussed Thursday night at a Belle Isle Residents Association meeting.

From an email sent to Belle Isle residents on Monday:

Since Maurice Gibb Park is scheduled to be closed for construction, the City is exploring options to relocate the playground temporarily, possibly on Belle Isle.  Since many of our residents use Maurice Gibb Park, a representative from the Parks Department will attend the meeting to discuss what will be happening at Gibb Park and how it will affect residents. Please note that no plans to relocate the playground have been made – this is simply a discussion to get input from our residents.

The residents association meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the card room at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave.

Other discussion items include:

  • Updates on street construction including the upcoming West Avenue Bridge project, progress on raising Sunset Harbour streets and sidewalks, the upcoming repair of the bridge on Venetian Way between Belle Isle and Rivo Alto;
  • Updates on the progress of new projects proposed for 31 Venetian Way, the Standard Hotel East Wing, and DecoCapital project on Purdy next to Sunset Harbour Lofts.
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Miami Beach approves West Avenue bridge; work could begin in 60-90 days

The Miami Beach City Commission On Wednesday approved a $9.9 million contract for construction of new bridge extending West Avenue across the Collins Canal and Dade Boulevard,  linking Sunset Harbour to the West Avenue corridor.The bridge will connect West Aenue over the Collins Canal.

Work could begin in two the three months. The project — and its attendant disruption between the Venetian Isles and the main part of Miami Beach — is projected to take about 10 months. The Miami Herald’s Joey Flechas has more.

The vote was unanimous. In addition to the bridge, the project includes raising part of Dade Boulevard — where the bridge will slope down to Sunset Harbour — as much as six feet above its current elevation.

Might the Belle Isle flooding threat be back? It looks bad for Island Terrace.

How a small rise in sea-level would impact 5 Island Avenue.

How a small rise in sea-level would impact 5 Island Avenue.

At a Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce conference on sea-level rise, one of the many scientists in attendance pointed to Belle Isle as a Miami Beach location specifically threatening by seas rising faster than previous believed.

According to the Real Deal, Keren Bolter, research coordinator for Florida Atlantic University Center for the Environmental Studies, said specific buildings on Belle Isle are at particular risk.

Bolter said that in as little as 15 years, flooding in Belle Isle will grow much worse, especially at Island Terrace, a 16-story condo built in 1967. “It’s coming up not just at the sides,” she said while showing Lidar maps depicting future sea-level rise at Island Terrace and Belle Isle. “It comes up from underground.” That’s partly because the limestone that South Florida land is predominately made of us is extremely porous. Because of this, not even sea walls will stop the flow of water, Bolter added.

It’s interesting to look at how the recent project on sea-level rise by Florida International University projects flooding in our area.

It shows Island Terrace flooding with an increase of 1.22 feet of water.

Belle Isle residents view plans for 31 Venetian Way — and they have questions….

Street rendering of 31 Venetian Way

Street rendering of 31 Venetian Way (courtesy deforma studio inc.)

Lots of questions.

Belle Isle residents Wednesday night previewed the design for the apartment complex proposed to replace Belle Isle Key, the 1931 vintage three-story complex at the northeast portion of our island.

This is the third iteration of a plan to replace the complex, which currently has 120 units in five three-story buildings. The original structures at 31 Venetian Way were used as barracks to house troops in World War II. They were renovated more than 20 years ago.

Rendering shows view from south side of Belle Isle/

Rendering shows view from south side of Belle Isle/

A 2009 proposal from the owner, the EuroAmerican Group, was fought by the neighborhood, scaled back slightly by the Miami Beach Design Review Board and never built. The developer sued Miami Beach to build a little bigger than the DRB would allow– and lost.

We’ll try to dissect the latest plan clinically, and then get back to the questions and objections raised by residents.

— Number of apartments: There currently are 120 units on the site in five three-story buildings. The new design calls for 172 units in two five-story buildings.

— Apartment size: Architect Javier Barrera of Deforma Studio  said the average apartment will be 867 square feet. He said the mix would be 75 percent one-bedroom and 25 percent two-bedroom. There will be no studio apartments.

Parking is in the left building in the middle under the green.

Parking is in the left building in the middle under the green.

–Parking: The existing complex has 109 parking spaces, with overflow using residential permits on the island. The proposal calls for 297 parking spaces, all in a garage hidden from Venetian Way because apartment units wrap around it on the water and street sides. The parking garage is topped by a roof deck. There will be enough spaces for residents with about 39 overflow spaces for guests, Barrera said. There will be 205 bicycle spaces on site.

— Height: The buildings will be roughly 20 feet higher than the current structures — plus what’s on top of the roof deck, which will include landscaping, stairwells and the air conditioning cooling towers.

Rendering shows view from Biscayne Bay

Rendering shows view from Biscayne Bay

— Flooding issues, sea-level rise: The current complex is five feet above sea-level, and Biscayne Bay laps over the seawall during King Tides. The new complex will have to be built from an elevation at least five feet higher, Barrera said, and a recent Miami Beach code change could increase that to eight feet higher (a total of 13 feet above sea level). That will keep the grounds dryer, but also will raise the effective height of the buildings.

–Sustainability: Barrera was asked if the building would be LEED certified, and whether it would provide charging stations for electric cars. He said it would not be LEED certified unless a new city rule requires it to be, though they would try to make it as energy efficient as possible. He said there were plans to include charging stations in the garage.

— Public amenities: The new plan features a bay walk behind the complex, required by the city. An iteration shown last year had, instead, a park-like plaza at the east corner of the property, where the bridge from Sunset Harbour crosses into Belle Isle. The bay walk would be open to the public from sunrise to sunset, then locked.

The project entrance, and "view Corridor" between buildings.

The project entrance, and “view Corridor” between buildings.

— Design: This plan seems less massive than the plan that was proposed in 2009 and ended up in court. There is a “view corridor” between the two buildings (though the 2009 plan also had a view corridor). The renderings show — and architect Barrera promised — much lusher landscaping and the preservation of some, but not all, of the older trees on the site.

— Timeline: If the project moves ahead smoothly, Barrera said, it goes like this: The project goes before the Miami Beach Design Review Board on May 3. If it’s approved, additional design development would take about six months. Then permitting takes about six months. That puts construction starting in May 2017. For how long? At least another year.

We started off by indicating that residents had many questions. About 30 people showed up for the presentation at Belle Plaza. We’ll try and lay out some of the key concerns people raised, and the response from Barrera, the architect. The owner wasn’t present, and there were some questions Barrera could not answer.

The key concerns expressed:

— The buildings are just too high, and the added two stories or trees on the roof decks will block bay views of some Belle Isle residents on the lower floors of buildings on the south side the island.

Response: The code allows five stories, and that is what the owner is entitled to build and what he intends to build. There could be some change in the height of roof deck landscaping (shrubs instead of trees) if the neighborhood prefers.

— The owner could/should do a top-to-bottom renovation of the existing structures, not add units to the island, and make more money too.

Response: (and this is a massive paraphrase by your Belle Isle Blog): No.

— The mix of apartments (75 percent one bedroom, 25 percent two-bedroom) is wrong for our residential island, and more two- and three-bedroom units would fill a gap in the market and fit better with the neighborhood.

Response: The unit mix is based on a marketing study, but the question will be brought to the owners attention.

— A LEED certified building would be better for the environment and easier for the developer to market. And it likely is required by the city’s new rules.

Response: If it’s required, we’ll do it. If not, the building will be made as energy efficient as possible.

— The developer should bury the power lines in front of the property on Venetian Way for aesthetic and hurricane prep purposes.there, along with the response from Barrera and some observations from Scot Diffenderfer, president of the Belle Isle Residents Association.

Response: EuroAmerican is willing to pay for burying the line, but FPL is requiring that all powerlines on Venetian Way on Belle Isle be buried if the lines in front of 31 Venetian Way are buried. And EuroAmerican isn’t willing to pay for the whole island.

Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer asked Barrera to get the cost for burying all the lines so the residents association could explore figuring out how to pay the difference.

— The bay walk leads nowhere and wouldn’t be as much of an amenity as a small park.

Response: The developer agrees, but the city is requiring it.

The Design Review Board meets May 3. Diffenderfer encouraged residents to attend and share their concerns.

 

 

 

 

Here’s your development scorecard for Sunset Harbour, Dade Boulevard and upper West Ave

Proposed mixed use project at 17 between Alton and West, with new Residence Inn and proposed hotel renovation site in the background.

Proposed mixed use project at 17 between Alton Road and West, with new Residence Inn and proposed hotel renovation site in the background.

Two months ago, your Belle Isle Blog recapped the proposed onslaught of intensified development facing the neighborhoods of the Venetian Islands, Sunset Harbout and upper West Avenue.

And now we’re back with a report card that shows much of it is moving forward. So make notes, be vigilant, and take whatever actions you deem appropriate.

BELLE ISLE

— The owners of the Belle Isle Key Apartments, 31 Venetian Way, are moving forward with plans to replace the apartments originally built in 1931 with shiny new apartments.

The existing complex is 120 units in three-story buildings on 3.5 acres, and inadequate parking. The new plans, we hear, call for 172 units in two buildings with a view corridor in between and enough parking to serve all the tenants.

We’re told the owners, the EuroAmerican Group, plan to present their latest designs to Belle Isle residents before going before the city for approval, so stay tuned.

–The Standard hotel and spa is planning to ask for the city’s okay for a renovation plan that would to bring more parking to the site, but no plans have been submitted to the city yet. In January 2013, The Standard pitched an ambitious reconstruction that included rebuilding a wing of rooms and construction of a 45-foot high robotic parking structure. The hotel never moved forward with that plan. The new plan is expected to be  less dramatic, but still significant if you live in the bungalows to the east on Farrey Lane: Knocking down the existing one floor east wing of rooms, and replace it with a two-story wing — with parking on the first floor. It would not add any units to the hotel, and would resolve their parking shortage.–

mayflower

THE HOTEL PROJECTS

— The proposal to renovate/restore the adjacent apartment and retail building at 1700 Alton Rd. has cleared an important hurdle and next must be considered by the Miami Beach City Commission.

The owners of the five-story retail/apartment building at 1700 Alton Rd. want to renovate the Mediterrenian Revival building as a hotel with first floor retail.

To move forward with those plans, the owners want the 94-year-old property designated as historic. Last week, the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board voted to recommend that designation to the Miami Beach City Commission.

Currently, that building houses first floor businesses including the Vespa store, an eye doctor, Masters Pizza, a beauty salon and other restaurants. The balance of the building since 1992 has been studio apartments.

The renovated project will house retail and 72 hotel rooms.  The restoration will include eliminating changes in the building made in the 1950s and restoring the original lobby to what is looked like back in the day.

It also means that the building can move forward with no more parking than currently on the site — 25 spaces.

Old Boston Market, site of proposed boutique hotel.

Old Boston Market, site of proposed boutique hotel.

— The proposal to turn old Boston.Market property — the last slice of what is becoming a big pie of hotels between 17th Street and the Collins Canal — is still in the works.

Developer Robert Finvarb is proposing a 96-room “boutique” hotel with a 100-plus seat restaurant. The structure would be five stories tall. It would include a bay walk to West Avenue, and construction could start as soon as the fourth quarter of this year if it gets city approval. Finvarb is the developer of the five-story Residence Inn by Marriott on 17th Street at West Avenue, which opened two weeks ago.

SUNSET HARBOUR

Proposed mixed use development on Purdy.

Proposed mixed use development on Purdy.

— The proposed retail-parking and luxury condo project on Purdy Avenue, the one seeking a variance from a 50-foot height limit to allow a structure 90 feet high, will go before the Miami Beach City Commission for a final vote on May 11.

The project is across from Maurice Gibb Park, between the Loft condominium and the kayak rental bungalow. Developer Bradley Colmer calls the project the Residences at Sunset Harbour, with 15,000 square feet of retail at street level, topped by two floors of parking and 15 large, luxury condos priced at roughly $3 million each. The condos would face the bay.

City Commissioners on March 9 deferred a decision on the project.

Rendering of Kobi Karp design for 1824 Alton Rd.

Rendering of Kobi Karp design for 1824 Alton Rd.

On March 1, the city Design Review Board approved a four-story restaurant retail and parking complex at the corner of Alton Road  and Dade Boulevard, site of an old Larry’s Chevron at 1824 Alton Rd.  The project’s largest tenant is expected to be a Michael’s craft store on the second floor. It’s also expected to house a 160-seat restaurant.

UPPER WEST AVENUE

Shuttered Shell station at Alton Road and 17th St.

Shuttered Shell station at Alton Road and 17th St.

— Also pending is the Soffer family’s proposal to build a restaurant/retail/apartment project on the site of the former Shell station at Alton Road and 17th Street and the private pay parking lot across the alley at 17th Street and West Avenue. The project would include restaurants, retail, parking and 32 high-end rental apartments in a five -story building. It would include a ramp for cars over the alley.

How rising seas threaten our homes on Belle Isle and surrounding islands and neighborhoods

With sea-level rise of two feet, we see significant flooding.

With sea-level rise of two feet, we see significant flooding.

More than most, residents of our neighborhoods know the realities. Our streets have flooded for years at high tide, and we’ve endured the cost and inconvenience of road raising and pumping installation projects that will attempt to keep our neighborhoods dry.

We own or rent properties at risk from rising seas. Many of us wonder when, even with higher sea walls and pumping stations, the sea may be lapping at our door.

The Florida International University’s School of Journalism & Communication did a nifty project on sea-level rise and its South Florida impact, called Eyes on the Rise. As part of it, they created a tool that allows you to project how different levels of rising seas could impact South Florida. Using the tool, you can look at specific addresses.

At three feet, the sea spreads.

At three feet, the sea spreads.

We’ve reviewed the impact on Belle Isle and the surrounding areas with a sea level rise of two, three or four feet, but you could do this yourself and put in your house or building address to see a full range from no-rise to six feet.

At four, all wet.

At four, all wet.

For context, scientists now project a rise of 6 to 10 inches in our area by 2030. Six feet of water level appears outside of our lifetime, but nevertheless, all the projections are sobering.

Once sea-level rise reaches two feet,  buildings are in jeopardy — Costa Brava, Island Terrace and the Venetian Isle Apartments on Belle Isle, for example.

condosAs the water rises, more buildings and neighborhoods are swamped along with the homes on the Venetian islands and high-rises in Sunset Harbour and down West Avenue. As you use the tool, you see all of Sunset Harbour under water except for Sunset Harbour 1800, 1900 and the Townhouses. So is virtually all of West Avenue, the Venetian Islands and all of Belle Isle except the Grand Venetian, the Vistas, 9 Island Avenue, 3 Island Avenue and the Standard.

The Real Deal website compiled a list of major condos at risk at different level or sea level rise.

 

Beach Commission to reconsider expedited Dade Boulevard work at Feb. 10 meeting – and why

On Wednesday, the Miami Beach City Commission deferred a vote to approve a no-bid, $2.2 million contract to raise Dade Boulevard between the bridge to Belle Isle and the passage over the Collins Canal.

The main reason for the delay: That stretch of Dade Boulevard is a county road, and the city administration had not worked out an agreement for Miami-Dade to pay for the project. The city expects to get those details ironed out, and the project is likely to be voted on at the commission’s Feb. 10 meeting.

But commissioners also discussed the possibility of delaying the work to include it in the bid to build the new West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal. Bidding the work out, instead of approving a no-bid contact, is likely to save 10-15 percent, city staff said at Wednesday’s meeting.

Formal bids also likely will delay both the Dade Boulevard work near the Purdy Avenue intersection, as well as the start of work on the West Avenue bridge. That’s because bids on West Avenue are to be opened on Feb. 10; adding this work to that project would require extending the bidding period for at least 30 days.

The city administration favors expediting the Dade Boulevard/Purdy work so at least some of it can be done before the Venetian Causeway reopens to mainland Miami on March 1.

dadebllvd

The Venetian reopening is sure to mean more traffic over the flood prone stretch, and the construction will mean disruptions, even though the city says one lane in each direction will be kept open at all times. The work is expected to take about 75 days.

It’s worth noting that when the West Avenue bridge is built, another stretch of Dade Boulevard — where the bridge will sloped down to Sunset Harbour — will be raised as much as six feet above it’s current elevation.