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.


Miami Beach votes today on flooding project on Dade Boulevard at Purdy


City Commissioners will vote Wednesday on Dade Boulevard contract.

Here’s a little reminder that the Miami Beach City Commissioner is scheduled to vote today at 5 p.m. on spending $2.2 million to raise Dade Boulevard from the edge of Biscayne Bay to just east of the 17th Street split.

The work is supposed to take 75 days once it begins, and would tackle flooding on Dade near the Purdy and Bay Road intersections. It also includes new traffic signals, landscaping and seawall improvements.

We’ll give an update after the vote.

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.


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.



Here’s what you need to do to prepare for the reopening of the Venetian Causeway

IMG_4648Miami-Dade County says the westernmost Venetian Way bridge == the one that connects us with mainland Miami — will reopen on Feb. 29, more or less.

So what does a Venetian island resident need to do to make sure their annual pass is in place to cruise through un-tolled?

We asked the county, and public works spokewoman Gayle Love provided some answers. We will have to re-register.  Here’s Love’s letter:

The County will be sending the renewal applications by the end of January or early February with all the information we currently have in our system.  Annual Plan holders should follow these simple steps:

 Update the SunPass account.  Make sure the SunPass account is current and with a positive balance.  Whenever the account becomes negative it automatically invalidates the annual plans and Toll By Plate charges begin accumulating on the customer’s account.

  1. Have ready the requirements for each plan:
    1. Venetian Owner.  Copy of the property Tax or Warrantee deed, vehicle registration and SunPass number assigned to the vehicle
    2. Venetian Resident.  Major Utility Bill such as FPL or water and sewer with the name and address on any of the Venetian Islands or Driver License reflecting Venetian address if it was issued after January 2010
    3. Venetian Commuter.  Paystub reflecting employment address on the Venetian Causeway or West Ave
  2. Once the customer  receives the application, verify all the information, make any necessary changes and mail the application along with the requirements copy as soon as possible so we can update the account before the bridge reopening.
  3. Information regarding Online  Renewal will be available in the mailing.
  4. The Division will be sending periodic emails to alert customers when the office will be open extra hours in order to accommodate customers with  renewal.

 For questions or further clarification, please call the Causeways Division at 305-854-2468 during regular business hours.



Starting your Belle Isle morning in the pink