Related Group’s proposed Terminal Island project faces Coast Guard objections

Re-zoning of site on hold after questions raised on whether Related owns a majority of lot frontage

Mar.March 01, 2017 11:20 AM

Rendering of the Related Group’s proposal on Terminal Island and Jorge Perez

The Related Group’s plans to build a 25-story luxury condominium on Terminal Island, which sits off the MacArthur Causeway on Miami Beach, could have a “negative impact on security and operations” at the Coast Guard Miami Beach station that shares the island with Miami Beach fleet management facilities, an FPL facility and parking and ferry facilities for Fisher Island, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.   

Speaking at a meeting of the Miami Beach Planning Board, the base’s commander Captain Brian Keffer said Coast Guard operations on Terminal Island are characterized by “an elevated level of industrial maintenance, that will negatively impact any residence.”   

The planning board on Tuesday reviewed an application submitted by the Related Group to amend two ordinances pertaining to the city’s Land Development Regulations and the Comprehensive Plan, that would allow condos to be built on Terminal Island. For years, the island has been the only part of Miami Beach zoned for light industrial uses.  

Miami Beach Port LLC, a Related Group affiliate, paid $9.94 million for a 3.71-acre parcel at 120 MacArthur Causeway in 2013. The company, known largely for its luxury, waterfront condo projects, wants to build a 25-story 90-unit condominium that would overlook the Coast Guard station.

Miami Beach officials said they support the zoning changes because Related has said it will build a new 40,000-square-foot building that will allow the city the consolidate its fleet management operations, along with other administrative offices. The building will be built on a 2.16 acre site on the west side of the Related parcel and would make up much of the base of the tower, with separate parking facilities for city workers and residents whose parking facilities would be on the third floor the parking garage.  

But Keffer told the board that Coast Guard officials are concerned the proposed condo will “provide an overlook” to the Coast Guard facility that could negatively impact the base. He said the facility currently has a 50-foot security barrier and that the proposed resident development could force the Coast Guard facility to relocate its facilities elsewhere, which could significantly impact Coast Guard operations in the region. Those operations, he said, include interdicting increasing migrant smuggling from Bimini, search and rescue operations in Biscayne Bay and in the Atlantic Ocean, escorting cruise ships, assisting Miami Beach police operations and environmental cleanup operations in Biscayne Bay. Keffer said Coast Guard operations at the base also include loading ammunition on Coast Guard vessels, and that work is carried out on a round-the-clock schedule. He said if the proposed development is approved, the base, with its light-industrial uses, “would become a nuisance” to those living the luxury condominiums overlooking the base.    

Brian Peterman, a retired Coast Guard admiral, and former commander of the Miami Beach station, who is now a consultant for Related, told the board that Related was aware of the concerns and was looking into how buyer covenants that “can control what buyers do,” could mitigate the Coast Guard concerns.     

Other concerns about the project were raised by Frank Del Vecchio, a longtime community activist in Miami Beach. Del Vecchio told the board that any change in zoning by a private owner requires that owner to own a majority of the lot frontage in the area to be zoned. Speaking after the hearing, Del Vecchio told The Real Deal that since Related only owns 3.7 acres of the 18-acre Terminal Island site “its frontage is far less than a majority of the all of the parcels on the island,” adding that “neither the city nor the applicant had actually measured the lot frontage.”  

In response to Del Vecchio’s comments before the board, a Miami Beach city attorney said that since Related proposed 161,000-square-foot project met the city’s standard of controlling a minimum 80,000 square feet, the applicant had satisfied the requirement for an application to change zoning. But after several board members voiced concerns about a possible legal challenge to proposed zoning changes, Related attorney Tracey Slavens said the company would defer its application for at least a month to work with the planning department “to address all the issues.”      

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