Showdown for Shore Club expected at preservation meeting

Setai residents oppose HFZ Capital's project

May.May 11, 2015 01:30 PM

One of the biggest development projects in South Beach goes before the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board on Tuesday with preservationists and neighbors up in arms over the scale and possible impact of the project.

The iconic Shore Club hotel at 1901 Collins Avenue was bought in December 2013 for $175.3 million by New York-based HFZ Capital Group. HFZ has submitted plans for a condo conversion for the 309-room hotel to transform it into a super-luxury destination with 85 condo units and 100 hotel rooms.

To do that, the owners have proposed gutting the adjacent eight-story Cromwell Hotel as well as carry out extensive renovations of the Shore Club — something preservationists oppose.

A staff report for the Historic Preservation Board found serious problems with the “near total demolition” of the Cromwell, including “the total demolition of the entire east and south facades” stating: “Staff strongly recommends a significant reduction in the scope of demolition.” The staff also found that a new five-story structure proposed to be built along 20th Street, which would include conference rooms, a gym and a spa, to be “monolithic” and “not consistent with the historic urban character of the surrounding district.”

Neighbors of the Setai Resort & Residences, which sits just across 20th street from the planned development, are also angry at plans by HFZ, for proposing to eliminate a service area along 20th Street that currently serves as the site for deliveries and trash loading. The staff report concurred, saying “elimination of the existing service area may result in all loading, trash removal and deliveries occurring within the public-right-of-way, which will have a negative impact on the historic district.”

Residents of the Setai have filed an appeal with the Miami Beach Board of Adjustment, which handles zoning issues for the city, seeking revisions to the project, saying it does not meet what they say are 24 out of 29 zoning requirements.

At the last Historic Preservation Board meeting hearing on April 14th, board members declined to issue a certificate of demolition for the Cromwell. But several members voiced support for the project, although with qualifications.

The staff report found 20 instances where the project did not satisfy Miami Beach code recommendations for historic preservation. Yet, despite that report, the staff recommended the application be approved, subject to a number of conditions including, scaling back demolition plans for the Cromwell, redesigning the planned five-story structure along 20th Street, eliminating some proposed balconies and making design changes to planned cabanas and the Shore Club lobby.

At the April 14th meeting, HFZ representatives said they would work with staff to ensure the project meets the Board’s approval. Lori Golub, general counsel and Chief Operating Officer of HFZ Capital, told the board her goal is to restore the Shore Club to its original greatness.

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