Paseo de la Riviera in Coral Gables is moving forward, but with buildings at a much lower height than the developer initially wanted.
After a three-hour deliberation Friday morning, Coral Gables commissioners unanimously approved a site plan and zoning changes for the controversial $172 million hotel, residential and retail development that will replace a 155-room Holiday Inn on U.S. 1 across the street from the University of Miami campus.
“It comes down to height and how we can control it,” said Coral Gables Vice Mayor Frank Quesada. “It is essential we deliver on that.”
The city commission’s vote will allow developer Brent Reynolds to build a Mediterranean-style complex set around a public plaza with a hotel capped at 126 feet and an apartment building with a height of 112 feet.
Originally, Reynolds sought approval for two 140-foot towers. Over the last two months, during contentious city commission meetings, commissioners pushed the developer to reduce the height of the buildings to allay concerns by residents who live to the east of the proposed project.
The city commission’s vote caps a whirlwind week for Reynolds, who near the end of a marathon meeting on Tuesday had told elected officials he would abandon his plans if he had to go through further delays, as well as more height reductions.
A large number of Coral Gables residents also expressed their objections to the project, claiming it will create traffic gridlock and open the door to more high-density, high-rise developments in the city. A homeowners group, the Riviera Neighborhood Association, had submitted a petition with more than 1,000 signatures against Paseo.
While Paseo cleared its biggest hurdle, the project still will have to be reevaluated by the city’s Board of Architects since the design has changed, said Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Director Ramon Trias.