Ronald Bloomberg’s plan for a luxury mixed-use development near the Design District’s border could be thwarted by a long-running fight with residential neighbors in Miami’s Upper Eastside.
Last week, the Miami City Commission was scheduled to vote on a request to rezone a portion of 3801 Biscayne Boulevard and all of 455 Northeast 38th Street from medium density multifamily residential to medium density restricted commercial. Instead, city commissioners granted Bloomberg and his partners’ 3801 Biscayne Ltd. and 3801 Biscayne Corp. a seventh continuance.
Miami-Dade records show 3801 Biscayne Ltd. purchased the medical office building for $3.7 million in 2003 and 3801 Biscayne Corp. bought the apartment building for $330,000 in 2013. A declaration form attached to the rezoning application lists Bloomberg and seven partners as owners of the two companies.
The deferral was met with vehement opposition by a pair of neighboring homeowners who told city commissioners Upper Eastside community groups do not support Bloomberg’s proposal to convert the two properties into a luxury tower with 136 residential units and about 40,000 square feet of commercial space. Currently, a three-story medical office building that formerly housed a police museum, along with a surface parking lot, sits on the 3801 Biscayne Boulevard parcel and a two-story, 12-unit apartment building is at the 455 Northeast 38th Street address.
Since March 24 of last year, the first reading for the 3801 Biscayne project had been delayed six consecutive times prior to the city commission’s most recent extension. “Everybody in the neighborhood spends days and days getting back up to speed on this application,” said Barbara Pittman, who owns a three-bedroom house at 452 Northeast 39th Street. “We would like you to make a decision to either stop the deferrals or reject it.”
Geoffrey Bash, who owns a four-bedroom home at 448 Northeast 39th Street, said continuing to delay a vote on the 3801 Biscayne application is causing unnecessary stress on abutting property owners and Upper Eastside residents.
Ben Fernandez, the attorney for the 3801 Biscayne entities, said his clients needed another continuance because of negotiations with the Florida Department of Transportation to provide an additional public right-of-way where 36th Street meets Biscayne Boulevard.
“We have a project that has the potential to improve transportation at this important intersection in the city of Miami,” Fernandez said. “To date, we haven’t been able to reach an agreement with the neighborhood. But we fully believe this project is viable and worthy of a deferral.”
Prior to the meeting, Bash told The Real Deal he and others believe that the city would be engaging in spot-zoning if it approves the 3801 Biscayne application, and that the proposed development would further congest residential streets east of Biscayne Boulevard.
“Every six months we are going through this aggravation,” Bash said of the deferrals. “The residents don’t want a big building towering over them.”
Bloomberg could not be reached for comment. Fernandez, his attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.