UPDATED May 12, 2016 1:45 p.m. The first new large-scale development in years on Washington Avenue got a strong endorsement from the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board on Tuesday.
Board members approved a plan for the demolition and restoration of five existing structures, the total demolition of three structures and the construction of a new seven-story hotel that will have 312 units averaging 175 square feet, targeting travelers seeking smaller hotel rooms in dense urban environments.
The project between 601-685 Washington Avenue takes up the entire east side of the street and is being developed in a partnership between Miami Beach developer Andrew Joblon of Washington Squared LLC, and New York-based Imperial Companies.
Joblon’s Turnbridge Equities bought the buildings last year for $36 million, anticipating major changes to the street that many say has faded in recent years. In a bid to revitalize the area, the Miami Beach City Commission passed a new ordinance in October that raised height limits for some buildings up to 75 feet, reduced or eliminated parking requirements for hotels and put restrictions on where nightclubs can be located.
The measures are designed to bring visitors and increased foot traffic for restaurant and retail, especially during daylight and early evening hours and spur the development of boutique hotels.
On Tuesday, the city’s historic preservation board approved a series of variances that will allow Imperial Companies to build a new hotel containing extensive ground floor retail space between 601-685 Washington Avenue.
The hotel, designed by New York-based architect Morris Adjmi with Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates as the local registered architects, will have a tower setback from the street with extensive landscaping. Adjmi told board members that his design team looked at numerous examples of Art Deco design and architecture for the new building and that a large portal he had originally planned for the main entranceway would be scaled back so that it would not compete with storefronts along Washington Avenue.
Three small buildings will be demolished to create a breezeway from Washington Avenue through the building. Dining and entertainment areas of the hotel will be on upper levels overlooking the street.
While they said “overall they were supportive of the project,” board members expressed some concern over what was called the “monotonous quality” of the hotel building. Preservationists said they were “largely supportive” of the project, although some concern was expressed over whether the new ordinance allowing increased density and height along Washington Avenue would create a “condo canyon” on the street.
Board members voted 6-1 to approve the project with one member voicing concern about the mass of the proposed building. But Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board Chair Jane Gross called the project “a good example for the rest of Washington Avenue,” saying it was a preview of “what’s coming in the future.”