Over the objections of one of their colleagues, the Miami Beach City Commission voted 5-1 to allow developer Russell Galbut to seek approval from the city’s land use boards for revised development plans for the former South Shore Hospital site on Alton Road.
Galbut told commissioners the move allows him to meet with residents and homeowner groups in order to get their support while the city considers his separate application to increase the project’s height from seven stories to 25 stories.
“We are coming to you with a simple request to let us work with the community,” Galbut said. “If we can get consensus, we can move forward on an expedited basis.”
Galbut’s company, Crescent Heights, has plans to build 323 apartments, 63,000 square feet of commercial space and a clinic for Baptist Health South Florida at 600 and 700 Alton Road. However, the site also includes 500 Alton Road, which is where Galbut wants to place a 25-story tower with 100 luxury condos instead of the five-story building with 163 apartments that is currently planned.
In exchange for the height increase, the developer is offering Miami Beach 20,000 square feet of space for a five-story transit hub for the city’s proposed $400 million light-rail system. The Fifth Street transit hub would connect the train line with the MacArthur Causeway and the system circulating through Miami Beach. Crescent Heights would build the 25-story tower on top of the transit hub.
Galbut assured city commissioners Crescent Heights was willing to assume the risk of getting approved by the land use boards, if the height increase is denied.
However, Commissioner Michael Greico said Galbut’s request set a bad precedent. “My issue is the process,” Greico said. “There is nothing stopping public outreach without having an application in the system.”