The redevelopment of an aging rental apartment building and a separate proposed office tower designed by Arquitectonica in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood won approvals from the city’s Urban Development Review Board Wednesday afternoon.
The board voted 3-0 in favor of apartment builder AIMCO’s proposal to renovate the Yacht Club at Brickell and build a new 61-story rental tower at 1111 Brickell Bay Drive on the condition the developer consider incorporating ground floor retail on the north side of the new structure and accept only a 30 percent reduction in parking. The Boulder, Colorado-based real estate investment trust sought a 50 percent reduction, as well as other waivers to allow an unloading entrance at one of the project’s primary entry points and requested reducing the setback by three feet in some areas of the development.
Board members Neil Hall, Fidel Perez and Anthony Tzamtzis praised the design, but raised concerns that the development would create more congestion in traffic-clogged Brickell. “I do believe you are being very aggressive in asking for a parking reduction and an increase in density,” Perez said. “If you want this project to move forward today, you will have to make some concessions.”
Perez said AIMCO should consider opening up the ground floor area to make the project more pedestrian friendly. Tzamtzis echoed Perez’s criticisms. “The issue of the parking reduction is an issue with great consequences,” Tzamtzis said. “While the project is very well done from an architectural point of view, I have mixed feelings. I would like to see improvements on the north for pedestrian access.”
AIMCO’s plans show the developer would split the project into two stages, beginning with a facelift of the Yacht Club’s existing 32-story tower, as well as a new pedestrian walkway along Biscayne Bay. The first phase calls for splitting the 358 units into 258 hotel rooms and 178 apartments, or keeping the building completely residential, but with only 322 units.
After the renovation, the developer would tear down the property’s garage where AIMCO plans a 690-foot residential tower consisting of 572 units, as well as a new garage with 961 spaces.
Following approval of the Yacht Club redevelopment, the board unanimously approved Venezuela’s Mezerhane family’s plan to redevelop their seven-story office building at 888 Brickell Avenue with a new 38-story office tower. Two weeks ago, the board harshly criticized the new building’s design of a steel exoskeleton wrapped around glass. As a result, Raymond Fort, Arquitectonica’s lead architect on the project, made tweaks to the design to which board members were more enthusiastic.
“It is nice to see that you have worked overtime,” said Hall, who was one of the more vocal critics of the first design. “I think this is an incredible improvement. It is heartening to know when an architect is pushed the creative juices come out.”