Crescent Heights retail project up for review in Miami Beach

1634 Alton Road (credit: Erik Bojnansky)
1634 Alton Road (credit: Erik Bojnansky)

Companies tied to developer Crescent Heights and Wells Fargo Bank want to raze Miami Beach retail buildings originally constructed between 1926 and 1940 to make way for a five-story project on the corner of Alton and Lincoln roads.

The city’s Design Review Board is slated to review the proposal for 1212 Lincoln Road during Tuesday’s meeting. Coral Gables architecture firm Perkins + Will designed the project, which would include 83,484 square feet of commercial space – including a new Wells Fargo branch – and three levels of parking.

To build it, the Crescent companies and Wells must demolish 23,897 square feet of retail between 1614 and 1624 Alton Road.

The site includes 1620 Alton Road, a 4,800-square-foot retail structure built in 1926. The building housed the Electric Bicycle Store and a beauty salon until a damaging fire two years ago. Buildings at 1614, 1616 and 1624 Alton Road were constructed between 1935 and 1937 and are home to Gun Depot, Mattress Town, Taco Rico and other tenants.

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An existing two-story Wells Fargo branch at 1634 Alton Road features a wraparound mosaic from South Florida artist Enzo Gallo that depicts Abraham Lincoln, astronauts walking on the moon and the flag being raised on Iwo Jima, among other iconic images. The branch would also be torn down under the proposal.

Wells Fargo owns 1634 Alton Road, an 18,000-square-foot building designed by architect Martin Hampton and constructed in 1940. In 1971, the building became branch of American Saving & Loan Association, a financial institution started by Bay Harbor Islands founder Shepard Broad.

The project would be developed in two phases. The first, which includes demolishing 1614-1624 Alton Road, would begin within 18 months of the board’s approval.

“This highly transparent and dynamic ground design will serve to activate this section of Alton Road, as well as the intersection of Lincoln Road,” Miami Beach planning director Thomas Mooney wrote in a report submitted to the board.

Tuesday’s agenda also includes a request from real estate investors Michael and Nikki Simkins to demolish and reconstruct a single-family home at 5869 Pinetree Drive that was originally built in 1925 and included a “substantial addition” to the house in 1935 that was designed by prominent Miami Beach architect Russell Pancoast. The couple claims the house is structurally unsound, according to a city report. They paid $4.9 million for the property in April 2012.