Tag Archives: miami beach

Town Hall meeting on Zika tonight at 6 p.m.

zikaThere’s a town hall meeting for Miami Beach residents on the Zika threat tonight at 6 p.m. that will include the state surgeon general and Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales.

The meeting, scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Waverly Condominium, 1330 West Avenue, is hosted by state Rep. David Richardson. There will be a presentation on protecting yourself and preventing the spread of Zika, as well as a question and answer session.

As you know, Miami Beach between Eight and 28th Streets has been designated by the Centers for Disease Control as a Zika zone.

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.


A great way to start a weekend

Sunset over Miami, from Belle Isle

Sunset over Miami, from Belle Isle (Herb Frank photo)

Three-story home proposed for tiny Farrey Lane on Belle Isle

The vacant property at 7 Farrey Lane is next to the Standard.

The vacant property at 7 Farrey Lane is next to the Standard.

A prominent Miami Beach architect wants to build a three-story glass and concrete home on the Biscayne Bay end of Belle Isle’s Farrey Lane, just east of The Standard spa resort.

IMG_4589The bayfront site is small, as are all the lots on Farrey Lane, one of two Belle Isle streets developed in the early 1940s with one-story villas. The property is almost 4,300 square feet, tiny by single-family home standards, though the among the largest on Farrey Lane.

The owner is architect Rene Gonzalez, noted for his contemporary glass and stone designs for homes and buildings. One home he designed, a 30,000-square-foot mansion in Indian Creek Village, sold for $47 million in 2012, then the most expensive home sale in Miami-Dade County.

The Farrey Lane home obviously is much smaller than that — proposed to be 2,700 square feet. Gonzalez bought the vacant lot in March 2014 for $1,435,000.

Gonzalez’s proposal may be smaller than his other projects, but it’s big for Farrey Lane, where property records show most homes are two-bedroom, one-bath, and about 1,200 square feet. There are two three bedroom homes on the street, one 1,500 square feet, and the other 2,400, and they also front the bay. All are one story.

The 3-story home would go here.

The 3-story home would go here.

The 40-foot height of the home is driven in part by elevating it for flood protection.

Miami Beach’s Design Review Board is scheduled to consider the project on Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Gonzalez is seeking three variances, all driven by the small size of the lot. They would waive minimum setbacks for a dock, for side property lines and for parking in front of the home.

City staff has recommended approving the variances, noting that the actual square footage of the home doesn’t require a variance, nor does the building height.

The bungalows on Farrey.

The bungalows on Farrey.

The Belle Isle Residents Association wants the Design Board to delay its decision. In a email to homeowners, BIRA president Scott Diffenderfer advised that neighbors are concerned about the scale of the project, and Gonzalez has not responded to a request that he meet with the association to give an overview of his plans.

“We have asked that this presentation be deferred until the neighborhood has a chance to review, but it appears the developer is not willing to do that,” he wrote. 

Gonzalez’s designs have drawn international praise. He was featured in a  July 2013 Wall Street Journal profile,  which said he  “is interested in how homes reflect and interact with their environments, making glass and reflective surfaces his favorite materials. In one apartment he designed in South Beach, he used reflective latex panels on the ceiling to reflect the view outside, giving the room the impression of being surrounded by the outside scenery.”

Belle Isle Park becomes a nesting place

Friday in Belle Isle Park (photo by Herb Frank)

Friday in Belle Isle Park (photo by Herb Frank)

You must have noticed how our little neighborhood park on Belle Isle has become gathering spot — for stroller-pushing moms and nannys, dog walkers and the occasional tropical bird.



Belle Isle residents meeting to focus on upcoming projects — from Watson Island to West Avenue

If you feel like that the construction projects around our island paradise never end, that’s because….they never end.

The Belle Isle Residents Association meets on Tuesday. The agenda is packed with presentations that affect Belle Isle, Sunset Harbour and the other Venetian Islands.  A sampling:

— A report from the city of Miami Beach on the construction timeline and design for the West Avenue bridge, which will extend West Avenue over the Collins Canal to connect Sunset Harbour with the area south of 17th Street.

— An overview of the upcoming reconstruction of West Avenue south to Fifth Street, including the plan to raise the roadway as much as three feet to combat flooding.

–An update on the closure and rebuilding of the westernmost span of the Venetian Causeway, which will disrupt traffic throughout the Venetian Islands

— A presentation from the organization that is fighting the proposed mega-marina project on Watson Island, which is expected to affect traffic on the MacArthur, Tuttle and Venetian causeways.

And that’s just a start. The meeting begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., and important information at 7 p.m. It happens in the card room at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Avenue.


Hey, Belle Isle, enjoy your Friday night sunset show

It just doesn't get any better.

It just doesn’t get any better.