Developers of two planned 14-story towers on Biscayne Boulevard are speaking out about about a court decision blocking them from breaking ground.
LAB Developers is hoping to settle the matter at the next Miami City Commission hearing on June 26. Miami City Commission officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
LAB Developers received unanimous approval for Kubik, a mixed-use project with 295 residential units on the west side of Biscayne Boulevard between Northeast 56th and 58th, on three separate occasions. The developer has already sold more than 200 units.
Yet Kubik continues to be stalled by two neighbors who are fighting LAB Developers. The neighbors, who live nearly 500 feet away from the project, want the developer to lower the height to a maximum of three stories.
“[Neighbors] Elvis Cruz and Cesar Canton want the building to be only 35 feet tall. Our zoning clearly states that to have our height limited would be against our property rights,” said Camilo Alvarado Boshell, developer of Kubik.
Cruz and Canton could not be reached for comment.
LAB Developers contends the neighbors would not be adversely affected by Kubik’s height or scale and, in fact, Boshell said, the push to lower the height to a three-story building is not in line with the county design guidelines.
The guidelines promote two and three-story buildings in suburban commercial corridors, and Biscayne Boulevard is not a suburban street, Boshell argued, it’s a city gateway corridor that is part of a significant urban growth initiative.
“We believe Kubik is an asset to the neighborhood and is reflective of smart growth development,” said Bob Flanders, co-founder of the Upper East Side Miami Council.
“The developer listened to the community’s needs and desires and adapted the site plan based on what we saw was important,” he said. “They modified the parking and on-street retail and entrances, and have come up with a product that works well for this location.”
Kubik has received wide support from the community and the commission. The Builder’s Association of South Florida has also recognized the project with its Florida’s Best award.
Dena Lewis, a neighbor and local architect, said she believes that modifying the site plan by lowering the height of the building would stunt and belittle the renaissance of the Biscayne Corridor.
“There is no zoning ordinance anywhere that mandates building up to 35 feet, therefore, the proposition is arbitrary and unfounded from an urbanistic standpoint,” Lewis said.
In fact, she said, the avant-garde and community-mindful design of Kubik calls for multiple setbacks and is terraced. “It is respectful of all height and angle proportions,” she said.
Boshell said all the projects on Biscayne Boulevard have received some form of opposition. He views this opposition as a risk to the community.
“It is like sending a message: Do not invest in Miami since the zoning regulations are not respected,” he said. Boshell isn’t planning to throw in the towel, though.
“We have a great location, an approved project, paid impact fees and have sold over $150 million,” he said. “We will be fighting until the end. We will continue defending our property rights.”