Panel debates North Beach’s potential for hotel development

Panel presented by Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and City of Miami Beach

Feb.February 26, 2015 04:30 PM

Real estate professionals say Miami Beach may need to intensify its efforts to encourage hotel development in the city’s long-overlooked North Beach area.

“There’s no reason North Beach should lag the rest of South Florida,” said Robert Finvarb, whose Miami-based real estate investment and development firm is developing a 105-room Hyatt hotel in South Beach and a 194-room Residence Inn Marriott in Sunny Isles Beach. “Everything is converging on North Beach.”

But Finvarb said without some help from local government, a major hotel development in North Beach is unlikely anytime soon. “Right now, it just doesn’t make sense, given the development restrictions” and the high cost of land and construction, he said. “You wouldn’t be able to drive the rates” high enough to make a branded hotel on North Beach profitable, he said.

Finvarb spoke Thursday as part of a panel of real estate professionals addressing the hospitality development potential of North Beach, during a public event at the O Cinema movie theater on 71st Street near Collins Avenue. The Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and the City of Miami Beach Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on North Beach Revitalization presented the panel discussion.

“Hospitality isn’t new to North Beach, but we have an opportunity to bring in some [hotel] brands,” said Jason Cotter, senior vice president of Bricapital, who moderated the panel discussion.

Panel members said the City of Miami Beach could encourage a major hotel project in North Beach in a variety of ways, including reductions in building permit fees, the minimum amount of parking required per development, and the minimum allowable square feet per hotel room. Miami Beach could unlock the development potential of North Beach with “carefully designed land-use changes to its code,” said panel member Alexander Tachmes, a partner of law firm Shutts & Bowen.

Some panel members questioned whether the city’s historic preservation policies can benefit North Beach as much as they benefited South Beach. “I’m not sure an extreme focus on preservation is wise,” Tachmes said.

“When new construction is proposed, it’s not looked at as being a bad thing,” said Miami Beach planning director Tom Mooney, who was part of the panel. Mooney also said preservation needs in North Beach are historically different from those in South Beach, where widespread development happened much earlier.

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