A land-use attorney and architect refuted accusations that their New York hedge fund client assembled three waterfront properties in Miami Beach to create a single 1.4-acre compound.
The denials were made on Tuesday, before the Miami Beach Design Review Board unanimously approved an application to demolish an 89-year-old, 8,706-square-foot house at 2156 North Bay Road and replace it with a regulation-sized tennis court, one-story garage and a 5,335-square-foot home designed by Coconut Grove architect Max Strang. The project still faces a Board of Adjustment review of proposed zoning code variances needed to accommodate the home’s construction on Friday.
The property is owned by a company connected to Owl Creek Asset Management, a $4 billion New York hedge fund founded by Jeffrey Altman. Two other companies linked to Altman bought houses just south of 2156 North Bay Road. The total investment for the three 20,000 square-foot lots was $17.2 million. The houses that occupied both parcels to the north have been demolished and will be replaced by 10,000-square-foot homes also designed by Strang.
Board member John Turchin, a real estate developer who grew up in Miami Beach, said the project reminded him of Jack Gordon’s Tennis Club that was built in the 1960s on North Bay Road.
“Jack Gordon knocked down two houses and built a private tennis club with two tennis courts and house boat,” Turchin said.
Land-use attorney Matthew Amster acknowledged the three companies have a “similar owner,” but he denied that his client is trying to create a single estate.
“Each property has a stand-alone full home and all of them have the proper amenities,” Amster said.
Miami Beach code requires the board’s approval of plans to replace certain pre-1942 homes outside of historic districts. While the board can reject the design of a new home, it cannot deny permission to demolish the old house.
Last year, Miami Beach adopted a law forbidding a single owner from assembling more than two single-family lots. An exception to the rule is the use of a third lot “for the purpose of expanded yards, or the construction of accessory structures, when detached from the main home with a minimum separation of 15 feet.”
Turchin suggested the 2156 North Bay Road application could be in violation of the property assemblage law.
Michael Larkin, Amster’s colleague at law firm Bercow Radell & Fernandez, told The Real Deal any questions about the North Bay Road properties must be submitted in writing. Larkin did not respond to written questions by deadline.
Strang insisted the three-bedroom house is meant as a “weekend retreat” for an unnamed client.
“There’s no intention of this being a spec house at this time,” he says.
The board also unanimously approved Bal Harbour Shops co-owner Randall Whitman’s application to demolish a 1939 home designed by Robert Law Weed at 2817 Lake Avenue and replace it with a two-story house designed by architect David Wearne.
The board did not approve design changes sought by Lionheart Capital’s Ricardo Dunin for the Ritz-Carlton Residences, a redevelopment of the former Miami Heart Institute at 4701 Meridian Avenue. Dunin wanted to get rid of some of the planters on the façade of the garage and balconies due to maintenance concerns. The application was postponed until the board’s Dec. 2 meeting.