Tag Archives: Venetian Islands Homeowner Association

Activists say upcoming Venetian Causeway bridge closing requires creative solutions to traffic, safety

If you haven’t heard by now, Miami-Dade engineers have concluded that the structural problems with the westernmost Venetian Way bridge to Miami mean it will have to be rebuilt.

They estimate that about six months from now, they will begin demolishing the span between the Miami Herald site and the drawbridge. Demolition and reconstruction is expected to take six to nine months, but who knows how long it will really take. We’ve all been through construction projects before.

Obviously, that will make the drive from one of our islands to the Omni area a longer trip, and much more of a hassle. But several of your Venetian Way neighbors say there is opportunity in adversity.

The folks with the West Avenue Neighborhood Alliance (WAVNA)  and Transit Miami have asked for creative suggestions from residents on how to minimize the traffic impact, as well as provide safe alternatives for bicyclists and pedestrians.

You can email WAVNA at westavenuesobe@gmail.com.

Several Venetian Isle Homeowner Association want to appeal to the Coast Guard to lock down the east drawbridge during the construction, so an emergency path will always be open for fire rescue vehicles. It’s an interesting idea, but Miami-Dade representatives say they have asked for bridge opening restrictions, and getting action from the Coast Guard is a painfully slow process.

And in a letter to Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance members, President Jack Hartog said the upcoming bridge closing presents a chance to reshape how Venetian residents and the community at large views the historic road between Miami and Miami Beach:

“With this current challenge, however, comes opportunity.  When we renamed ourselves Venetian Way (from Venetian Causeway Neighborhood Alliance) at our 2013 annual meeting, we did so to change the perception of Venetian Way (the official name of the street uniting the Venetian Islands). Venetian Way has always run through our residential neighborhoods; it has always been the most beautiful way to get vistas of Miami; it has always been the best (and often the only way) for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-auto enthusiasts to get safely from the beach to the city and vice-versa. 

But over the years, despite the McArthur and Julia Tuttle, many have increasingly perceived Venetian Way as at least a secondary, and for many a primary, motorway to get to and from Miami Beach. Our goal, by renaming our organization, has been to change this perception: public policy should treat Venetian Way not as a motorway between the beach and city, but as a safe sanctuary for all pedestrians, bicyclists, all non-auto enthusiasts to visit and take advantage of Venetian Way’s awesome vistas without constant traffic and accompanying congestion inspiring unsafe conditions. 

And here is the point of this email.  During this period of bridge reconstruction of the far west section of Venetian Way, effectively making it a dead end coming from the beach, Venetian Way will be used for only three purposes: (1) the mode for residents to get on and off the islands; (2) the only manner by which governmental (such as emergency, police, fire, public transit and waste removal) and needed private services have access to residents; and (3) a safe and peaceful street for pedestrian (including joggers and skaters), bicyclists, tourists and others to enjoy the inspiring beauty of our islands and their views. These are the core uses of Venetian Way, not as a motorway between the city and the beach, even after the west bridge is repaired.

  So when that section of the bridge closes, blocking all traffic using Venetian Way as a thruway between city and beach, let’s use this period to embed the real nature of Venetian Way in public consciousness and public policy. 

Ending commuter passes, the recent change to the toll structure, appears to be one such step in this correct direction.  As much as we understand the convenience of Venetian Way for those who live near (a mile or so) from either entrance to Venetian Way as a motorway between the beach and the city, the toll structure should treat them like all other non-residents: use Venetian Way for your walking, running, exercising and bicycling, not as a through street.  And when the new west section of Venetian Way is re-opened in the latter half of 2015, and SunPass fully kicks in at the toll booth, signage and other measures should be implemented that direct and encourage through traffic to use streets meant for through traffic, not Venetian Way.


Changes are coming: Sunpass, Streetscape and Alton updates

Another batch of important projects are moving forward that affect Belle Isle and our Venetian Causeway neighbors, and there are key informational meetings coming up to learn more about them:

— The Venetian Causeway will be changing over to SunPass  by year’s end, and Miami-Dade County’s Causeway Division will explain  the shift and answer questions at a meeting Tuesday, May 21.

The meeting, sponsored by the Belle Isle Residents Association, the Venetian Island Homeowners Association and the Venetian Way Alliance, starts at 7 p.m. at 1000 Venetian Way on Biscayne Island.

Expect to learn about increased security, the possibility of raising tolls for non-residents and the possibility of a lower speed limit.

— The Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition will pitch a lower speed limit for Alton Road at the June 12 Miami Beach Land Use Committee meeting, instead of May 22 as had been planned. The May meeting was canceled. The coalition hopes to make the case for a more bicycle-friendly reconstruction of Alton Road.

— On June 5, the Venetian Isle Homeowner Association has scheduled a meeting at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens so residents can get an overview of the Venetian Streetscape plan from Miami Beach’s capital improvement experts. That work — which includes new sidewalks, lights and landscaping around Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino islands — starts in June.

Design Review Board to consider giant house on DiLido Island

Front view of proposed home at 206/212 W. DiLido Dr.

Front view of proposed home at 206/212 W. DiLido Dr.

Most of the attention at Tuesday’s Miami Beach Design Review Board meeting will be focused on the request from Real Housewife 0f Miami’s Lisa Hochstein and plastic surgeon hubby Leonard to knock down a 1925 Walter DeGarmo house on Star Island — replacing it with a mega-mansion.

But at the same meeting, the design board will consider another proposal — to knock down two homes (on two lots) on DiLido Island on the Venetian Causeway and replace them with one huge house.

appraiserThe address of the existing homes are 206 and 212 W. DiLido Dr. Each lot is 10,500 square feet, and according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser website, both homes were purchased by Ahmad Lee Khamsi — 212 W. DiLido in May 2011 (for $2.6 million) and 206 W. DiLido in June 2012 (for $2.28 million).

Khamsi is a telecom and cable executive who heads Supercable, which provides digital cable service in Venezuela and Colombia. He lived in the Boca Raton area for more than a decade.

Both existing homes were built in the 1950s, and are just under 3,600 square feet each.

The new home design is just under 12,000 square feet, plus a large roof deck. It was designed by architects Choeff+Levy. Miami Beach Design Review staff called it “very handsomely designed.”

Petitioners against it say it’s out of scale for the island.

But in an email to Venetian homeowners, Venetian Island Homeowners Association president Juergen Brendel wrote:

These larger new high end homes will sell for much more per sq ft and enhance the value of all the nearby houses and lots. Opposing such development would be scaring all the ones that are currently paying high $$$ for our members. We should not do this.

He has also hired one of the best architect firm in the world from South Africa and is paying millions in design fees. We should encourage this it will raise the caliber of the neighborhood!

In any case, the 2 houses being replaced are really ugly and in disrepair. They need to be changed!

Venetian Causeway homeowners prepare for Streetscape in Rivo Alto, DiLido, San Marino

New sidewalks and landscaping grace Rivo Alto

We can all be thankful that the construction and beautification of the Venetian Causeway is all but done, and the road is smooth and pretty much looks beautiful.

We still don’t understand why own new “historic” streetlights are in the middle of the new wide sidewalks (defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?), but we’ll learn to live with it.

And so now the Venetian Isles of Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino prepare for the sidewalk, lighting, landscaping and paving improvements on their local streets.

Island residents will get a briefing on how that construction will roll out and cover a range of other topics at the Dec. 13 meeting of the Venetian Island Homeowner Association.

The meeting happens at 6:30 at 250 East San Marino Dr., on San Marino Island.

Among the topics on a long agenda in addition to the Streetscape update: A report from the Miami Beach police department on island burglaries and efforts to blunt them; the possibility of a hotel development on 17th Street and Alton Road; a report on the Genting Project on the Miami Herald property, and plans to changing how tolls are handled on the Venetian Causeway and other causeway issues.