Category Archives: Venetian Causeway

For Belle Isle residents, here’s your chance to see what might replace Belle Isle Key Apartments

From Maurice Gibb Park, Belle Isle Key.

From Maurice Gibb Park, Belle Isle Key.

The owners of the 120-unit apartment complex on Belle Isle known as Belle Isle Key have a new proposal to knock down the 1931-vintage complex and replace it with new apartments and parking.

Belle Isle Key Apartments, 31 Island Ave.

Belle Isle Key Apartments, 31 Island Ave.

Company representatives will meet with Belle Isle residents to show and explain its proposal on March 31 at 7 p.m. It’s expected to happen at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave.

The company, EuroAmerican Group, markets its properties under the name Key International. The company’s roots are in Spain . It is based in Miami and owns and operates apartments and hotels around the world.

In South Florida, they also own the Eden Roc and South Beach Marriott, and have built or own condos and apartment buildings in Bal Harbour, Sunny Isles and elsewhere.

The new proposal calls for 172 units in two buildings with a view corridor in between. It includes sufficient parking on site, something the current complex lacks. One version of the plan included a small park at the corner of Venetian Way and the bridge to Sunset Harbour, but the city asked EuroAmerican to provide a bay walk instead.

Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer said the owners wanted to present the plans to residents for feedback before going back to Miami Beach to try and get approval. The project is likely to go the Miami Beach Design Review Board in May.

This will be the third time they have pitched a proposal to replace the complex of 120 units in four, three story buildings. The original structures at 31 Venetian Way were used as barracks to house troops in World War II and were low-income housing until they were renovated more than 20 years ago.

Rendering of previous plan

Rendering of previous plan

In 2009 and 2010, EuroAmerican went to the city with designs that called for 181 apartments in two five-story buildings,  including a 315-space parking garage topped by two tennis courts. The city Design Review Board approved a plan that trimmed one floor from the easternmost building, and eliminated eight apartments.

The developer appealed that decision to the city commission in November 2010.  EuroAmerican wanted the fifth floor, The company sued in January 2011, but Miami Beach prevailed in court in January 2012.

They came back in May 2015 with a new proposal, but that effort stalled.

 

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.

Venetian opens today at noon; ribbon cutting festivities, celebration run, ride delay driver high-fives

Yes, the Venetian Causeway reopens today after a nine-month rebuild of its westernmost bridge, and if the closed crossing to the mainland has mucked up you commute, that’s good news.

You might want to plan your first trip, though. The celebrations around the reopening may slow traffic.

There’s a ceremony (and ribbon cutting) at 11 a.m. The bridge is expected to be open to traffic around noon.  (Originally, the county said festivities would start at 10 a.m., but hey, we have been waiting this long, right?)

Then, starting at 6 p.m., several South Florida running organizations have encouraged their members to participate in a “United Venetian Run” run. The idea is for groups to run from the Lulemon store on Lincoln Road on Miami Beach and from the Omni Metromover station near the Adrienne Arscht Center and meet for a group photo at the Venetian toll booth on Biscayne Island.

The Miami Beach group is to start running at 6 p.m.; the Miami group at 6:30 p.m. Organizers are from local run clubs and the Miami Marathon, which features the Venetian in its event, but had to route around it last month. They expect about 400 runners.

Cyclists are celebrating, too. More than 600 people have RSVPed for an event that starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Miami Bike Shop (18th and Biscayne), crossing the Venetian and ends around 7 p.m. for a happy hour. in downtown

So…..maybe Tuesday, we return to the causeway to head home at rush hour.

 

Venetian Causeway opening planned for Monday

The Venetian Causeway link to mainland Miami is expected to open Monday at 10 a.m., with an official ribbon cutting.

That actually meets the schedule Miami-Dade County promised last year when it closed the westernmost span of the chain of bridges, which connects Biscayne Isle with the mainland.

The west span closed June 1, and the county said the $12.4 million reconstruction would take nine months.

The reopening will make it easier for residents of Biscayne, San Marco, San Marino, DiLido, Rivo Alto and Belle isles to make their way back and forth between Miami Beach and downtown. It also restores a popular crossing for runners, walkers and cyclists.

But it also means a big increase in traffic for Venetian residents, who have balanced a driving inconvenience with much quieter streets during the closure.

And it will mean that the drawbridge between Rivo Alto and Belle Isle, which hasn’t been raised since construction began, will resume service again.

The $1.75 Venetian toll, collected through SunPass, will resume on the causeway. Island residents will need to re-register their SunPass devices with Miami-Dade County to avoid the toll. The county has detailed instructions on how to do that.

With the west end of the bridge rebuilt, study continues on the other 11 bridges on the causeway, most of which will require some level of repair in the next few years. The Florida Department of Transportation expects to complete an engineering study by summer 2017, a required step to quality for federal funding help for rehab work.

The county has said that work wouldn’t begin before 2020.

 

 

A look at the DiLido Island construction boom

If you live on DiLido Island, this isn’t news to you: There’s a mansion boom.

For those of you who aren’t aware, here’s a deep look from The Real Deal.

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.

 

 

Miami Beach City Commission delays vote on Dade Boulevard road-raising work

The Miami Beach commissioners delayed a decision Wednesday on a $2.2 million contract to raise a flood-prone section of Dade Boulevard at Belle isle’s east entrance.

The stretch of Dade Boulevard runs east from the edge of Maurice Gibb Memorial Park and the easternmost Venetian Causeway bridge segment to just west of where 17th Street splits off of Dade Boulevard.

It’s flood-prone at high tides, and forms the southern border of the Sunset Harbour sea-level rise project. The money would pay for raising the road up to three feet, as well as seawall improvements, landscaping and traffic signal modernization.

City engineer Bruce Mowry told Belle Isle residents last week that he hoped the city would get the project 75-day project started as quickly as possible to minmize its impact once the Venetian Causeway reopens to mainland Miami, which is expected on March 1.

 

Here’s what’s planned for the Dade Boulevard street raising at Purdy Avenue

City Commissioners will vote Wednesday on Dade Boulevard contract.

Commissioners will vote Wednesday on Dade Boulevard contract.

At Thursday’s Belle Isle Residents Association, city engineer Bruce Mowry said the next urgent project Miami Beach will undertake to combat sea-level rise and street flooding is raising a short stretch of Dade Boulevard from Biscayne Bay to the bridge over the Collins Canal.

Here’s slightly a deeper look at that project, which Miami Beach commissioners will consider Wednesday at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr.

It’s a $2.2 million project ($2 million with a $200,000 contingency), and the commission is being asked to waive bids to do it quickly, which requires approval from five of the seven commissioners. The contractor would be Lanzo Construction, which is doing the other work in Sunset Harbour.

It involves raising Dade Boulevard up to three feet, but that’s not all (86bcddfa-2d29-4600-b700-2634fd3604fc). The project also includes higher seawalls along the Collins Canal, new drainage, traffic signals, lighting and landscaping for the street of the roadway that forms the south boundary of Sunset Harbour.

The city Public Works Department says two lanes of traffic will remain open at all times. At Thursday’s meeting, Mowry said the construction is expected to take 75 days; a public works advisory says two months. Work is planned for seven days a week, according to the city.

It’s supposed to happen in three phases. The city wants to get the work done quickly, Mowry said, because once the Venetian Causeway reopens to mainland Miami on March 1, traffic is expected to increase. This schedule will get at least some of the work completed before then.

 

Get ready for more neighborhood road construction and new development than you can imagine

At the Belle Isle Blog, we try to keep things in perspective. We live in a gem of a neighborhood, though not a perfect one.

We have traffic issues aplenty. We’re at ground zero for sea level rise. The street-raising and pump projects create lots of inconvenience, but in the long run, we’ll be better off with higher and dryer streets.

And we know that retailers and restaurants want our business and many folks would love to live where we live. And we like to walk to nice places to eat and shop.

So there’s pressure to build on every underused parcel of property around us, especially in Sunset Harbour, which used to be Miami Beach’s back shop — home to car mechanics, plumbers and towing companies.

We understand all of that. And still, the cumulative impact of all the upcoming road work and development proposed for the next two years in the Venetian Way-Sunset Harbour-West Avenue area that was revealed at Thursday night’s Belle Isle Residents Association meeting just staggered us.

In all, the intersecting neighborhoods can expect at least two years more of almost continuous detours, road raising and disruption from the sea=level rise work.

Add to that the impact from no fewer than seven major major development projects that are planned along a half-mile stretch from Belle Isle to Alton Road along Venetian Way, Dade Boulevard and 17th Street.

Wow.

Here is an overview of the roadwork, cheerfully outlined Thursday night by Miami Beach’s city engineer, Bruce Mowry:

— Raising by two feet the flood-prone stretch of Dade Boulevard from the easternmost Venetian bridge (the one exiting Belle Isle) to the bridge over the Collins Canal. This area floods regularly at high tides. Mowry said the City Commission next week will be discussing a proposal to fast-track this work so it can be done in advance of several other road projects nearby, as well as the anticipated reopening of the Venetian Causeway to the mainland, which is expected on March 1. Mowry said this work, once started, is expected to take 75 days.

— Finishing the road-raising work in Sunset Harbour, which will take several more months. Purdy Avenue work continues. The intersection of Bay Road and 18th Street, by Fresh Market, is next. And then Bay Road to Dade Bouelvard. And on…

— Construction of the West Avenue Bridge, which willbe a traffic show-stopper. Mowry said the bridge is currently in the bidding/procurement phase, which should be complete at the end of February. If all goes as expected, the city could be voting to green-light construction right after that. According to project plans, the actual work would take 270 days — nine months. That takes us into 2017.

— The closing and elevating of Dade Boulevard by — wait for it! — SIX FEET. This work, Mowry said, is needed to deal with flooding issues as well as to accommodate linking the north segment of the West Avenue Bridge as it connects with Sunset Harbour.

— West Avenue elevating and pump work. This job goes on — and will continue for more than a year in different segments. For our part of the world, the section from 17th Street to Lincoln Road is done. The traffic lights at 17th and West Avenue await county approval to  become operational. That ought to happen soon.

— Not a road project, but something we heard for the first time at the meeting: Maurice Gibb Memorial Park will also be raised higher. Really.

Mowry promised to keep the neighborhood posted on timetables and detours as this work progresses and, we’ll update on all of that. He also indicated he’d do a neighborhood meeting on timing and detour alternatives before some of the major new work begins.

And that brings us to the developments. We’ll go more or less from west on Belle Isle to the east, ending at Alton Road. It’s quite a list (and we’ll come back later with more detail on each in future blog posts):

–The Standard hotel and spa is discback with a renovation proposal to bring more parking to the site. 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, and in the time since, the mechanized parking structures elsewhere have had lots of problems. Now, Belle Isle Residents Assocation president Scott Diffenderfer says, The Standard is proposing something 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.

— The owners of the Belle Isle Key Apartments,  31 Venetian Way, on the northeast quadrant of Belle Isle. are working on a new proposal to knock down the apartments originally built in 1931. The existing complex is 120 units in three-story buildings on 3.5 acres. The developer plans to show its proposal to the neighborhood when it’s complete. More details to come.

shopsOn Purdy Avenue, north of the Loft condominium and south of the kayak rental bungalow, developer Bradley Colmer is proposing a mixed retail, parking and condo project across from Maurice Gibb Park. The attention grabber in this project is the request to build 90 feet high on the east portion of the structure, which fronts Bay Road. The current zoning allows only 50 feet.  Colmer told residents Thursday night that despite the increase in height, the project will have less impact on neighborhood traffic than if he builds what the code allows: 45,000 square feet of retail ina 50-foot-high structure. His proposal, tentatively called the Residences at Sunset Harbour, includes 15,000 square feet of retail at street level, two floors of parking topped by 15 large, luxury condos priced at roughly $3 million each. The condos will face the bay, overlooking the park.

— At the corner of Alton Road  and Dade Boulevard, site of an old BP gas station, developers have proposed a five-story mixed retail and restaurant project. The top three floors would be parking.

— To the south, on the old Boston Market site on Alton Road, 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.

1700 Alton copy for web.jpg`- At the corner of Alton Road and 17th Street, in the five-story retail/apartment building that includes the Vespa store, there is a renovation proposal. Currently, that building houses first floor retail and is zoned for 36 apartments and 36 hotel rooms. The new project will house retail and 72 hotel rooms.  The historic building, originally called the Mayflower Hotel, has been studio apartments since the 1990s. Currently, the building has enough parking for eight cars.

— Across the street, developers have put together a development site that includes the former Shell station on Alton and 17th Street and the private pay parking lot across the alley at 17th Street and West Avenue. Diffenderfer said they are proposing a project that will 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.

In coming weeks, we’ll drill down on several of these projects.

 

 

Belle Isle Residents Association meets tonight

Here’s a reminder: You can meet your neighbors and learn about key issues facing the neighborhood when the Belle Isle residents Association holds its annual meeting, tonight in the card room at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave.

The gathering starts with a wine and cheese reception at 6 p.m., followed by a business meeting at 7 p.m.

We’ll get an update on ongoing and future road projects (get ready for bridge construction at West Avenue), the proposal for an five-story apartment complex on the Belle Isle Key site, progress on the Venetian Causeway and more.

The association will also elect new officers and hear from you about your concerns.