AIMCO’s plan to redevelop the site of the Yacht Club at Brickell, including building a new 61-story apartment tower, faces strong opposition from Tibor Hollo and other well-heeled neighbors on Brickell Bay Drive.
Recently, TWJ 1101, a Tibor Hollo-controlled company that is developing the 83-story Panorama Tower at 1101 Brickell Bay Drive, appealed five waivers that the city’s planning and zoning department granted AIMCO. The Boulder, Colorado-based real estate investment trust needs the waivers to allow construction of a new 690-foot tall, 572-unit building with a new garage for 961 spaces where the Yacht Club’s current garage is located. The Panorama site abuts the Yacht Club at 1111 Brickell Bay Drive, which AIMCO plans to renovate.
AIMCO sought a 50 percent parking reduction, as well as other waivers to increase the new building’s floor plate from 180 feet to 198 feet, allow an unloading area at one of the project’s primary entry points and reduce the setback by three feet in some areas of the development. The new building would be the second phase of the project after AIMCO renovates the existing tower at 1111 Brickell Bay Drive. AIMCO is considering turning 258 units in the that building into hotel rooms.
At a Miami Planning and Zoning Appeals Board meeting earlier this week, Hollo’s attorney Tucker Gibbs said his client has serious concerns about the design of the new apartment building. “The increase in density is a detriment to the rest of the neighborhood,” Gibbs said. “They are adding another tower that will add more negative traffic impacts to an already congested Brickell Bay Drive.”
The owners of Concord Aztec Brickell, the entity that is going to operate a Hyatt-centric hotel at Panorama, also protested the waivers. Concord lawyer Victor Diaz said there was no justification for the waivers. “Is this good for the neighborhood?” Diaz said. “It is very good for the applicant, but it is not good from a planning and zoning standpoint in an urban context.”
Peter Langshore, a resident of Plaza on Brickell at 950 Brickell Bay Drive, questioned whether granting the waivers was smart planning. “This is a clear case where it has a detrimental effect,” Langshore said. “Is this really smart growth? We are going to become a New York, Hong Kong or Dubai.”
However, AIMCO attorney Iris Escarra noted that Hollo’s company obtained similar waivers from the city. “This is truly an infill project,” Escarra said of her client’s plan. “The only reason these waivers were sought was because of the design and complexity of the site.”
The appeals board voted 7 to 1 to reject Hollo’s appeal of four waivers. A vote to deny the appeal on the waiver for the 50 percent reduction failed due to a tie vote. Hollo can still appeal to the Miami City Commission, so the fight is not over.