Valet-only SoBe parking garage gets first nod

James Avenue lots where garage would be built
James Avenue lots where garage would be built

Real estate investors are one step closer to building a 329-space valet parking garage with a rooftop supper club near Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road.

The Miami Beach City Commission passed an ordinance on first reading Wednesday that would allow 75-foot tall structures along James Avenue between 17th Street and Lincoln Road, provided that five levels are used for parking, at least 250-spaces are available to the public, and the project is approved by the Historic Preservation Board. Currently, new buildings in the Museum Historic District, where James Avenue is located, are limited to 50-feet in height or five stories.

The proposed code, brought by Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, will come before the commission again for second reading on September 2nd. A five-sevenths vote is required for a zoning change in Miami Beach and two commissioners, Deede Weithorn and Micky Steinberg, voted no on first reading. Mayor Philip Levine hinted he may do the same.

“I don’t love the valet [aspect],” Levine said.

Real estate investors plan to build a seven-story garage complex on a 60-space surface lot along James Avenue, just west of three commercial buildings at 1676 Collins Avenue, Monika Entin, an attorney representing New Rex Corp., told commissioners,

New Rex Corp., owned by Haim Yehezkel of Elysee Investments in Miami Beach, and New York-based investor Avi Dishi, control the lot and the adjacent retail.


James Avenue lots

Entin said the proposed garage will include retail on the bottom floor and a restaurant with roof-top garden on the top floor. The name of the future restaurant is yet-to-be determined, although it will have 79 dedicated spaces within the garage. The other 250 spaces will be available for general use, Entin said.

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But it won’t be a garage where one can park his or her own vehicle. Instead, customers will pull up and hand their keys to a valet. “It [the valet service] will not be exclusive to area hotels and restaurants,” Entin promised.

Commissioner Michael Grieco supported the concept, noting that valet garages are popular in other cities.

Commissioner Ed Tobin admitted he was against the garage at first. He’s since changed his mind. “We’re so behind in parking spots that until we have a chance to catch up, we need something to come in,” Tobin said.

Steinberg, however, still felt the project was too tall. “Parking is needed, but they can build it up to 50 feet,” she said. “They don’t need the additional two stories in that district.”

Weithorn didn’t like giving New Rex Corp. two additional floors, and she disliked the restriction to valet.

After the vote, Levine admitted that he didn’t like the valet-only concept either.

“I voted for this on first reading,” the mayor said. “On second reading, I’m not sure.”