Developers propose twin condo towers in North Miami Beach

Key International, 13th Floor Investments want to build two 25-story high-rises

Jul.July 03, 2014 11:10 AM

Two developers are teaming up to build a pair of 25-story high-rise condominium towers near the Oleta River at Northeast 163rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard, The Real Deal has learned.

Inigo Ardid of Key International and Arnaud Karsenti of 13th Floor Investments plan to develop a 330-unit luxury project on 4.4 acres of vacant land behind Area Code 55 Brazilian Steakhouse and the shuttered Miami Grill restaurant.

The high-rise project, tentatively named the Harbor and designed by Coral Gables-based Corwil Architects, would be less than a mile away from the Marina Palms Yacht Club & Residences now under construction at 17201 Biscayne Boulevard. Marina Palms’ towers are also slated to reach 25 stories. The tallest completed building in North Miami Beach, a 5.2-square mile municipality just west of Sunny Isles Beach and south of Aventura, is the 12-story, 49-year-old Regions Bank building at 699 NE 167th Street.

Key International and 13th Floor frequently work together. They are also developing the 50-story 1010 Brickell in Miami, the 20-story 400 Sunny Isles in Sunny Isles Beach, the 98-unit Eden House in Miami Beach and the boutique waterfront condo Sereno in Bay Harbor Islands.

The Harbor site is “a tremendous location with a great view corridor,” Karsenti told TRD.

Under current plans, prices for the Harbor’s 192 two-bedroom units and 88 three-bedroom residences will range from $500,000 to $2 million. Amenities for would include a natural beach, an infinity pool deck, a spa and 547 parking spaces.

The towers will be “oriented toward the south and east to maximize views of Lake Maule and the Oleta River,” according to a letter submitted to the city from one of the project’s lobbyists, Greenberg Traurig land use attorney Ryan Bailine.

Key International spokeswoman Lauren Marks cautioned that the project is still in its early planning stages. Everything could change, she said, including the project’s name.

“We are moving through the approval process on this project and we are not yet ready to announce anything until everything is finalized and approved,” Marks said in an e-mail to TRD.

The project must still be approved by the City of North Miami Beach, Marks added. In order to build up to 25-stories, the city will need to rezone the land. Under the parcels’ existing zoning, the tallest building that can be constructed is 18 stories. Bailine told the city in his letter that the properties fall within a proposed overlay district that would encourage intensive mixed-use development with unlimited height.

The spot was originally zoned for restaurants and retail. That changed in 2004, when the city, in search of new sources of tax revenue, rezoned to allow an 18-story, 141-unit high-rise called Blue Palms Condominium.

Two years later, Blue Palms Development LLC, owned by Gerardo Aguirre and Hector Garcia of SH Communities, bought the land for $3.7 million from LEF/North Miami Beach Village LLC. Blue Palms sought additional density to enable the construction of 320 residential units within two towers: the 18-story Blue Palms Condominium and the 12-story Keystone Grande Condominium. The city approved the request.

In 2006, the city projected Blue Palms and Keystone would generate an extra $1.4 million a year in property taxes. However, the projects soon drew opposition from the North Miami Beach Citizens Coalition, which sought to limit new development to just seven stories. Environmental group Friends of the Oleta River also expressed fear that the towers would adversely affect the river.

In 2007, the state’s Department of Community Affairs rejected the city’s plans to approve the towers, after North Miami Beach failed to provide enough information about hurricane evacuation procedures.

Ultimately, it was a poor economy that killed the project, Aguirre told TRD.

It isn’t clear who actually owns the land now. The Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s website still identifies Blue Palms Development LLC as the property’s owner. Yet Aguirre insisted his company is simply the property’s manager.

Karsenti declined comment on whether or not 13th Floor Investments and Key International have a contract to buy the land or if the partnership already owns it. “I can’t talk too much about the ownership structure,” he said.

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