Tag Archives: REsidence Inn

Planning Board approves 17th Street hotel; Design Review Board comes next

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

The Miami Beach Planning Board approved the proposed Marriott Residence Inn at 17th Street and West Avenue on Wednesday night, after more than four-and-one-half hours of discussion.

The project, which includes a sleek 116-room hotel designed by architect Kobi Karp and a 66-space mechanical parking garage, now will go before the Miami Beach Design Review Board.

The 6-1 vote came after board members heard from more than a dozen residents from different neighborhood associations who expressed concerns the hotel would add to traffic woes on 17th Street between Alton Road and Belle Isle.

They also heard from supporters of the project, who said an extended stay hotel in the residential part of Miami Beach would add convenient lodging for family and friends of Miami Beach residents.

The property is bounded by 17th Street, the Collins Canal, the path of the planned West Avenue Bridge and a parking lot that serves Boston Market and a retail and apartment building at the corner of 17th Street and Alton Road.

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

Board members praised the design of the hotel project, proposed to be built on land under contract to be purchased for $5 million from the Miami Beach Housing Authority by the Finvarb Group.

Finvarb owns several Marriott properties, including the Courtyard on Washington Avenue.

But most of the debate involved impact on 17th Street traffic from the project.

Henry Stolar, the only board member who voted against the project, did so after asking for the vote to be postponed so the development team and city staff could do more work on the 17th Street issues.

“I can’t imagine a better case for doing the right thing than giving this another month….otherwise we are in a position of just getting this done. I do not like haste in deciding something that has taken seven months while a political process takes its course.”

Board chairman Charles Urstadt said the decision was difficult because he believed the project is a good one, but the concerns about traffic were legitimate.

“We are here to balance the greater good to the public with the rights of the property owner.” he said. “We can’t force this to become a park, we have certain limits on what we can do.”

To try and address traffic, board members asked for a slim median on 17th Street to keep eastbound traffic on 17th Street from attempting left turns into the property, and a requirement that a fourth valet be added during peak business hours at the hotel to prevent cars from backing up from the hotel entrance into the street.

Developer Ron Finvarb told board members the hotel would be something the city will be proud of. “This will be a Residence Inn by Marriott. It must adhere to very high standards,” Finvarb said.

“It will not have any accessory uses that will create additional impact or noise…. With all of the conditions we have offered…the hotel will only benefit the neighborhood. This will not be a party hotel. It will be a state of the art hotel with great design and service.”


Planning board considers 17th Street hotel at 5 p.m.; expect a crowd

Rendering of the hotel from the Collins Canal.

Rendering of the hotel from the Collins Canal.

The Miami Beach Planning Board has scheduled a 5 p.m.  hearing on the proposed Marriott Residence Inn on 17th Street and West Avenue.

Expect a big crowd and a lengthy discussion.

The Finvarb Group wants to build a 116-room hotel on the property. It’s a sleek five-story hotel designed by architect Kobi Karp, with 66 parking spaces.

The property, owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority, is tight, tucked between 17th Street and the Collins Canal, west of the apartment building that houses the Vespa store and other retail, and the Boston Market on Alton Road.

A coalition of neighborhood groups — including the Belle Isle Residents Association, the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association, Venetian Causeway Homeowners Association and six more — are asking the Planning Board to delay approval until the city can better study its impact on traffic. They have also suggested the property should be preserved as green space.

They are urging their members to show up at the meeting wearing red.

In a letter to Planning Board members, BIRA President Scott Diffenderfer said the impact of the planned West Avenue bridge, which will form the west boundary of the hotel property, needs to be considered in the plan, along with the expansion of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Planning Board members also will hear from supporters of the project, many of whom posted comments during the weekend on BelleIsleBlog. Several praised the design and said a hotel like a Residence Inn — which caters to business travelers and longer stays — would be an amenity to residents who have friends and family visiting. They also argue that the hotel would have less impact on traffic than other businesses that could be built on the property, like a fast food restaurant or a drug store.

In its analysis of the proposal, city of Miami Beach planners recommended approving it, subject to many conditions. The on-site restaurant must be for hotel guests only. The roof-top pool must close by 11 p.m. The hotel has to provide a shuttle for employees who park off-site. And more.

The project still must be scrutinized by the Miami Beach Design Review Board.

17th Street hotel developer to meet with Belle Isle Residents Association

The developers of a Marriott Residence Inn proposed to be built on a sliver of land between 17th Street and the Collins Canal will present plans to members of the Belle Isle Residents Association on Thursday, April 4.

The 116-room hotel is proposed by the Finvarb Group, developer and owner of at least seven Marriott properties across the country, included the Marriott Courtyard on Washington Avenue in South Beach.

The land where the hotel would be built, north of 17th Street between Alton Road and West Avenue, is owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority. Finvarb has negotiated to buy it, assuming the hotel project is approved by the city.

On March 13, the Miami Beach City Commission relaxed parking requirements for small hotels in the city’s historic district, and added the 17th Street parking to the the more generous rules. That controversial decision was opposed by the Belle Isle Residents Association and the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association.

At the meeting BIRA representatives complained that the city Parking and Transportation Committee was not asked to review the parking policy change, and the hotel project had not been presented to Belle Isle homeowners. Michael Larkin, the lawyer representing Finvarb, said there had been a meeting scheduled with Belle Isle but it was cancelled because of a death in the Finvarb family.

The project still must be approved by the Miami Beach Planning Board.

Miami Beach may reduce parking for hotels, with special rule for project 17th Street and West Avenue

Miami Beach commissioners are scheduled to vote Wednesday on new parking rules that would reduce the number of parking spaces required for hotels in historic districts.

The proposed change, as approved by the city Planning Board, would only apply to the retention of historic buildings — with an exception specifically designed to enable the construction of a new hotel on the north side of 17th Street and West Avenue.

What’s so special about this hotel? A good question for the city commission to answer. Because the parking rules on the agenda for Wednesday seem to be written with that one project in mind.

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Some background: The Miami Beach Housing Authority owns the pie-shaped sliver of land south of the Collins Canal and just east of the proposed West Avenue bridge, which would extend West Avenue north across 17th Street, the canal and  Dade Boulevard, linking with the Sunset Harbour neighborhood.

The Housing Authority has a contract to sell the land to the Finvarb Group — a company headed by Robert Finvarb that owns and operates a slew of Marriotts in South Florida and across the country.

Finvarb has proposed building a five-story Residence Inn by Marriott on the property.  Designed by architect Kobi Karp, it would have five floors, 116 rooms and only 66 parking spaces in a mechanical garage.

The land sale is contingent on the approval of the hotel project.
And the hotel project can’t go forward without the change in the city’s parking rules.

The developers have repeatedly asked the Planning Board to defer consideration of the hotel because the proposed number of parking spaces assumes the city will lessen parking requirements.

And the parking ordinance analysis the city will vote on Wednesday actually singles out the Finvarb project to be exempted from the requirement that the reduction be “only applicable to retention of historic buildings.”

There are areas where the parking reduction won’t apply at all, because of concerns about parking shortages and traffic congestion. One is the neighborhood south of Fifth Street. Another is the West Avenue corridor, which they city contends ends at the doorstep of the Finvarb property — at West Avenue and 17th Street.

The Housing Authority/Finvarb property is across the street from the West Avenue corridor (and you could argue, that when the West Avenue bridge is built, it will be on the corridor.

Nevertheless, specific  language in the staff recommendation to the city commission mentions Finvarb and this exception to the rule: the proposed hotel would get the .5 space per unit break as long as the hotel agrees it will not have a restaurant, pool, bar or special events open to the public.

The Residence Inn’s restaurant and pool will only be used by hotel guests.

The Belle Isle Residents Association, the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association and and Miami Beach United have opposed the new parking rule, and the new hotel. They argue that 17th Street between Alton Road and West Avenue is one of the city’s most congested areas, and adding the hotel — in fact, creating special rules to accommodate the hotel — just makes no sense.

In a letter sent Monday to the Miami Beach mayor and commissioners, Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer asked that a decision on the parking rule be deferred so the city’s Transportation and Parking Committee could review it.

Diffenderfer is a committee member, and noted that the group typically reviews ordinances that would change parking requirements.

“I have been a member for five years and I am insulted that an amendment as important and controversial as this has not been presented to us,” he wrote. “There is clearly a breakdown in the process.”

The Belle Isle residents group has been seeking a presentation from zoning lawyer Michael Larkin for months. Larkin has met with selected island residents, but not in an open meeting that anyone could attend.

“Many residents have expressed outrage that the City would even consider reducing parking requirements to allow this type of development on that tiny piece of property which is mere feet away from 17th Street and Alton Road – one of the most congested and dysfunctional intersections in our city,” Diffenderfer said in his letter to the city commission.

Venetian, West Avenue homeowners worry about proposed 17th Street hotel

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

Homeowners along the Venetian Causeway and West Avenue fear a proposal to build a hotel off 17th Street near Alton Road will create congestion and parking problems.

The hotel, proposed to be a 116-room Marriott Residence Inn, would be built on a pie-shaped tract of land between 17th Street and Dade Boulevard west of Alton Road.  Picture it behind Boston Market.  Designed by Kobi Karp, it would be five floors high.

“We’re not against hotels,’’ West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association co-chair Christina Florez said at Thursday’s meeting of the Venetian Islands Homeowners Association. “We’re concerned about incompatible development in a residential community.’’

Miami Beach zoning rules allow the hotel in the location, but the developers have asked to reduce the parking requirement, Florez said. The developers, SOBE17 LLC, have asked the Miami Beach Planning Board for permission to use a parking garage with mechanical lifts to provide 66 spaces on the site.

A hearing had been scheduled for Dec. 18, but the developer has asked to delay the hearing until Jan. 22.

The parking request for the Residence Inn is part of a broader proposal Miami Beach is considering that would lower the number of parking spaces required for hotels. Miami Beach United and several neighborhood associations have come out against the parking proposal, in the belief it will lead to greater congestion in largely residential areas like West Avenue.