18 townhouses proposed for U.S. 1 get first nod

Miami Planning, Zoning Appeals Board recommended approval, now to go before commission

May.May 08, 2015 02:00 PM

A redevelopment plan to raze four single-family homes along a small stretch of U.S. 1 near the Miami Science Museum to make way for an 18-unit townhouse development cleared its first hurdle recently.

At its regular meeting on May 6, the Miami Planning and Zoning Appeals Board, by a 6-1 margin, recommended approval of the Borges + Associates-designed project, despite objections from neighboring homeowners.

The owner’s request to change the zoning from single-family to multifamily still has to go before the Miami City Commission for a final vote.

Pedro Puerto, whose three-bedroom house at 40 Southwest 30th Road fronts the proposed development, said townhouses are out of character with the neighborhood. “My family has been here for more than 35 years,” he said. “We moved into this home to enjoy the peace and quiet this neighborhood has brought.”

The townhouses would rise on six contiguous lots, including the four residences and two vacant parcels that begin on the corner of South Miami Avenue and U.S. 1. The properties are owned by an entity called Southeastern Investment Group Corp., which list Key Biscayne resident Alex Zakharia as its president in state corporate records. Zakharia purchased the lots for a combined $976,000 between 1997 and 2004.

Reinaldo Borges, the architecture firm’s chief executive, told the board the development will have modern tropical features, rooftop skyline terraces, private gardens and a below grade secured parking garage. “We’re using wood, stone and warm colors so we don’t have stark white buildings,” Borges said.

Lucia Dougherty, a shareholder and land use attorney with Greenberg Traurig representing Southeastern, said the lots are unsuitable for single-family residences due to unsafe traffic conditions. She explained current tenants of Southeastern have to back their cars out of the driveways unto oncoming traffic. “These homes were originally built in 1961,” she said. “The circumstances have changed.”

Dougherty also said the townhouses, which will be priced at $1.2 million to $1.5 million, would result in the appreciation in value of neighboring homes.

Adrian Sanchez, a real estate broker whose home would also front the proposed project, countered Dougherty’s claims. “They make it seem this is a high-speed corridor when it really isn’t,” he said. “This is not a blighted neighborhood. We don’t need to bring up our values.”

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