Tag Archives: Nine Island Avenue

Parttime Belle Isle resident wins case at Supreme Court



Fane Lozman, former Marine, commodities trader and civic activist, won his case before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. He’s on the front page of The Miami Herald today.

In a 7-2 decision, the Supremes decided the city of Riviera Beach, where Lozman used to live, could not regulate Lozman’s former home as a maritime vessel.

The court concluded that Riviera Beach went too far when it used maritime law to seize and eventually destroy Lozman’s houseboat.

Congrats to our Belle Isle neighbor, who spends a lot of time at Nine Island Avenue.

You may remember that Lozman got into a dust-up last year with KW Property Management at Nine Island, when his Ducati motorcycle disappeared from the parking garage. When he brought up the theft at a condo board meeting, he said the building management tried to shut him up and called Miami Beach police.

As we blogged back then — Lozman isn’t a guy to be taken lightly.


They built Nine Island Avenue on the site of JC Penney’s estate

Before the construction of Nine Island Avenue, the Penney Estate site, with the Flagler Monument in the background (Photo courtesy DeGolyer Library, SMU).

In Belle Isle Blog’s research into the JC Penney estate, we uncovered a set of photos from a graduate student who researched Penney in the late 1970s. Her photos are part of the J.C. Penney papers at the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Snapshot of crumbling estate wall, taken 1979 (J.C.Penney papers, DeGolyer Library, SMU)

Mary Elizabeth Curry’s work brought her to Belle Isle in 1979, to the gates of the old estate. By then, the estate was gone, and the only evidence of what had been known as 8 Belle Isle was a crumbling concrete wall and the view of the Flagler Memorial.

Before Nine Island was built, Costa Brava towered over the lot. (Photo courtesy DeGolyer Library, SMU)

The empty, overgrown lot was flanked by Costa Brava (11 Island Ave., built in 1972), and Island Terrace (5 Island Ave., built in 1967). In the next two years, the Simkin family built Nine Island Avenue on the estate site.

Curry’s snapshots show views that should be familiar to Nine Island and Belle Isle residents — but also a sense of how different the island looked before the last few tracts were filled in with high-rises.

The construction of Nine Island in 1981 filled out the south side of Belle Isle. In a 1975 view of Belle Isle, you can see the empty lot between Costa Brava and Island Terrace, the old Penney site.

A 1975 view of Belle Isle. There is no Nine Island Avenue, Grand Venetian or Vistas.

Nine Island elects new board

Unit owners at Nine Island Avenue, Belle Isle’s largest condo, elected new board members Wednesday night, just as they are about to begin paying steep assessments to pay for a $3.5 million reconstruction of the condo pool deck.

Lawyer Jeff Stokols, the current association president, was reelected with the highest vote total. Also reelected were board members Blanka Rosentiel and Michel Wehe.

Board members Mora Israel and Boris Klopukh were unsuccessful in their reelection bids. In their places. unit owners elected Heinz Koebernik and Celia Vasquez.

The new board then selected Stokols as president, Wehe as vice president, Koebernik as secretary and Vasquez as treasurer.

Here are the results:

Jeff Stokols: 121 votes

Heinz Koebernik: 111 votes

Blanka Rosentiel: 106 votes

Michel Wehe: 106 votes

Cecelia Vasquez: 99 votes

Boris Klopukh: 67 votes

Mora Israel: 58 votes

Jacqueline Simkin: 46 votes

David Rosen: 15 votes

FaBian Basabe: 13 votes

At Nine Island, assessment and election stir things up

The temperature is rising again at Nine Island Avenue, Belle Isle’s biggest condo.

Two weeks ago, the board approved a $3.5 million assessment for its 274 unit owners. The money will be used to repair the building’s failing pool deck; the controversy is over the length of time unit owners will have to pay their tab, which ranges from roughly $1,100 a month to $2,500 a month (even more for penthouse unit owners), depending on unit size, for eight months.

Many unit owners — and a board member or two — have complained the payments are too large over too compressed a time frame. It’s become a key issue in the upcoming condo board election, which happens March 9.

To gain some perspective, your Belle Isle Blog asked the leaders at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave., and Costa Brava, 10 Island Ave., how they structured their recent assessments.

Here is what we learned:

At Belle Plaza, board president Scott Diffenderfer said his building just ended an assessment to pay for work needed for its 40-year recertification, seawall repair, a new cooling tower and chiller and other incidentals. The cost for $1.2 million, and the building has 226 units.

“The assessment started in January of 2009. Our management company advised us to spread payments over one year, but we decided to give people two years to pay it off because of the difficult economic times everyone was facing two years ago.

“We charged a nominal interest rate to those who chose to pay over time, around 7.5 percent.”

Some homeowners, Diffenderfer said, paid in full up front. “Total assessments ranged between $3,500 and $10,000 a unit, total. Everyone else paid over two years, and paid some interest.”

At Costa Brava, president Nellie Barrios said the building has had three assessments in recent years.

“The first one was for 60 months — too long for cash flow issues. The second was for I think three  years ($200-$300 per month) and the third was for 24 months (about $300-$400 per month), she said, though she isn’t sure of the precise totals per unit.

“Given  the time that is required for the bids, the permits, and the work, I think you might be safe in spreading it out for 12 months possibly 18 but you would have to know how far along in the design, permitting etc. they are at — and EVERYTHING takes longer than you could ever anticipate.”

Diffenderfer said he felt the eight-month payback period would “be impossible for many of our residents.”

Belle Isle buildings struggle with renovations; report from Belle Plaza, Nine Island, Costa Brava

The concrete has been poured at the Costa Brava pool.

The construction and renovation at Belle Isle condos have moved forward on a number of fronts, but not without challenges.

— At Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave., a seawall reconstruction went awry, with the new seawall built in a slightly wrong location, resulting in violation notices and delays.

A second construction phase is supposed to resume this week, Belle Plaza resident (and Belle Isle Residents Association president) Scott Diffenderfer tells us. Work there started in June, and was to be finished in September, but the new seawall extended two feet too far into the bay. Now,  “everything is cleared for a second try,” Diffenderfer said.

— At Costa Brava, 11 Island Ave., the pool rehab project became an almost complete rebuild, with workers replacing all the original reinforcing steel. That job, which started in August, is now moving forward with the concrete sprayed into place last month and the coping going in this week.

— At Nine Island Avenue, the long-delayed pool deck renovation is nearing lift-off, with a $3.55 million cost estimate. Units owners there have wrangled for nearly 10 years over the need and cost of the project, which at one point was going to include not only renovation work but a redesign.

The need for the renovation is clear; the concrete deck, which serves as the ceiling for Nine Island’s lobby level parking garage, is crumbling and leaking in a variety of places, exposing reinforcing steel and dropping concrete. The city of Miami Beach has filed a violation notice against the building, demanding it be fixed.

The board elected last year hired an engineering firm, and tasked them with providing a cost estimate for fixing the structural issues. Last week, the association sent unit owners notice of a Feb. 15 meeting, at which the board will vote on a $3.55 million assessment.

The work is supposed to take 270 days, and will require closing parts of the parking garage during the construction period. The assessment also includes repairing Nine Island’s tennis courts.

— At Terrace Towers, 3 Island Ave., renovation work continues as well. The city Board of Adjustment has a public hearing scheduled for March 4 to vote on a variance to add pickets to the pool area wall along Venetian Way and exceed the maximum fence height.

2010 was year of the flood, construction for Belle Isle roads, residents and condos

As your Belle Isle Blog celebrates its first birthday, we’re reflecting on a year of community construction, collaboration and change.

We’ve met a lot of folks in Belle Isle and the surrounding islands since our first post. People tell us they appreciate a community website they can call their own, and one that tries to report what’s happening in our area from the perspective of island residents.

We’ve followed stories tiny and mid-sized (big for us), and tried to focus on neighborhood issues that touch our quality of life: traffic, zoning, crime, flooding. We’ve also attempted to highlight the heritage of this unique Miami Beach neighborhood.

Looking back, here are what we think were highlights of year one, 2010:

This cab stalled at Island Avenue and Venetian Way.

— Flooding. In June, Belle Isle and the causeway flooded for the second year in a row after sudden downpour. In October, we flooded (along with West Avenue and Alton Road) without rain, due to high tides and sea water rising up from the sewers. The city commissioned an $1 million engineering study to devise how to fix the problem, and we’ll keep you posted on the progress in the coming year. Meanwhile, work started Oct. 25 to address the frequent flooding at Island Avenue and Venetian Way on Belle Isle — and dragged through the New Year holiday.

Construction workers on Rivo Alto Island guide cars around a detour.

— Venetian Causeway construction and the Streetscape Project. The city installed new water main mains during the last four months of the year on Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino islands, putting us in a pretty consistent state of road construction. With that work virtually complete, in January the focus moves on to the streetscape project, which will bring new lighting, landscaping, sidewalks and crosswalks. The construction process will be disruptive, but the end product promises to be beautiful.

Apartment rendering

— Belle Isle Key Apartments zoning battle. Miami Beach staff, the city Design Review Board and ultimately the city commission listened to concerns from Belle Isle residents (and the residents’ association)  in turning down plans to replace the Belle Isle Key Apartments with two 5-story buildings. The building owner altered the plan repeatedly to try and satisfy residents and city concerns about the scale of the project, but they refused to lower the height of one of the two buildings from five to four stories as the design board recommended. So for now, things stay the way they are, and the owner will have to start the application process over again if he isn’t satisfied.

Pool construction at Costa Brava

— Construction in our buildings. There have been major renovation projects in almost every condo on Island Avenue — the sea wall at Belle Plaza, the pool and entrance drive reconstruction at Costa Brava, the entryway at Nine Island and Island Terrace. And there is more to come (lots more) in 2011. Here’s a toast to projects coming in on time and on budget.

During the next two weeks, we’ll try to update these issues in separate posts.

Thanks again for reading the blog.

Plant the plants, wash the windows, boring is welcomed back on Belle Isle

What happened at Tuesday night’s Nine Island Avenue condo board meeting on Belle Isle?

Nothing exciting, nothing contentious, just the basic business of running a big condo, Belle Isle Blog is happy to report. The new management company, KW, seems to be doing an effective job, president Jeff Stokols and board members said.

Well, there was one moment when the volume rose. Board member Mora Israel said the old management company, the Continental Group, “lied” in a letter that hit homeowner mailboxes last week alleging that porters under Continental’s employ, who were let go with the management change, could have stayed at Nine Island without a fee to the building. The first time board members heard that, Israel and Stokols said, was when the letter, dated June 28, arrived in the mail July 7.

“That letter was garbage, nothing but lies.” Israel said.

Here are the other highlights:

— The floors are cleaner, and so are the brass fixtures, the elevator floors, and the parking garages

— KW is investigating bringing concierge services to the building, as well as a Sundry Shop and ATM machine.

— The building is getting an air conditioning maintenance contract, and the temperatures in the hallways will become more consistent.

— A new landscaping company will charge less, provide the same services plus maintain the sprinkler system. The new company handles Grand Venetian, Apogee and Trump.

— A company named Cliffhanger is being hired to clean condo windows — and balcony railing glass as well.