Category Archives: Venetian Causeway

Don’t forget — Critical Mass rides tonight and traffic snarls expected

6db2b906-7b08-4e3b-823f-49cef9f16c0fJust a reminder that the monthly Critical Mass Miami bike ride starts at 7:15 p.m., and should be working its way through Miami Beach after after 8 p.m.

The last last leg of the ride goes west down Dade Boulevard and across Venetian Way and our islands to mainland Miami.

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Get ready: Critical Mass bike ride will cross Venetian Causeway Friday night

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It’s been almost a year since Miami Critical Mass staged its monthly bike ride through the Venetian Islands.

Friday evening, it’s back. and Miami Beach police warn of the usual traffic snarls.

The ride starts at 7:15 p.m. at Government Center downtown, through Northeast Miami to the 79th Street Causeway, then across Normandy Isle to Collins Avenue.

The last leg of the ride will take riders west on Dade Boulevard to Venetian Way and through the Venetian Islands — likely some time after 8 p.m.

So plan to avoid the traffic if you can. If you get caught in it, be patient.

(NOTE: This is a corrected version of this post — an earlier version had the route reversed).

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Update: Meeting with Belle Isle Key developer will be March 30 at 7 p.m.

The owners of the Belle Isle Key apartment complex, who want to knock down the current complex and build anew, will present their plans to Belle Isle Residents on Wednesday, March 30 at 7 p.m.

The presentation, which had been announced for Thursday, will happen in the card room at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave.

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.–

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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.