Alex Blavatnik and Sandor Scher get approval for North Beach redevelopment

Renderings of Ocean Terrace, Sandor Scher and Alex Blavatnik (Credit: Getty Images, Ocean Terrace developers)
Renderings of Ocean Terrace, Sandor Scher and Alex Blavatnik (Credit: Getty Images, Ocean Terrace developers)

To make way for their ambitious redevelopment project on a 2.2-acre slice of North Beach, Alex Blavatnik and Sandor Scher want to demolish substantial portions of 12 historic buildings and make exceptions to a zoning overlay district created for Ocean Terrace last year for Miami Beach’s next emerging neighborhood.

And after more than four hours of discussion at a Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board meeting on Tuesday, the board voted to approve the redevelopment project – with several conditions.

Representatives for their company, Ocean Terrace Holdings, claim their proposal preserves and restores the historic character of the buildings, but staffers for the Miami Beach Preservation Board questioned the need for some of the demolition work, variances and waivers.

“Alex Blavatnik and Sandor Scher invested a tremendous amount of money buying up blocks along Ocean Terrace with the vision of restoring that neighborhood to its vitality and grandeur,” said Neisen Kasdin, an Akerman shareholder and former Miami Beach mayor who represents the developers.  “The hallmark of the plan is preservation and restoration.”

The properties run from Collins Avenue to Ocean Terrace between 73rd Street and 75th Street. Blavatnik and Scher want to build a new 16-story, 58-unit residential building, a 76-room hotel, a parking garage and 18,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. For the hotel, the developers will combine the Broadmoor and Ocean Surf hotels on Ocean Terrace by connecting the two properties.

A new structure at Collins Avenue and 75th Street will feature a curvilinear corner design
reflective of many MiMo and Streamline Modern facades and the parking component’s facade will be set back from storefronts on the ground level, according to Ocean Terrace Holdings. The residential building will also have curvilinear balconies and multiple eyebrows inspired by the natural flow of an ocean wave and MiMo architecture of the surrounding buildings. To increase pedestrian access, a mid-block open breezeway will connect Collins Avenue to Ocean Terrace.

To accomplish this, Blavatnik and Scher are proposing to:

Demolish buildings at 7400, 7410 and 7430 Ocean Terrace but keep the facades and completely demolish 7420 Ocean Terrace in order to build the 16-story residential tower.

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Demolish buildings at 7409, 7421, 7433, 7439 and 7441 Collins Avenue except for the facades in order to build a new structure that will have ground floor retail, two levels of parking and an amenity deck for the hotel and residential building.

Partial demolition, renovation and restoration of the Broadmoor Hotel at 7450 Ocean Terrace. The construction work would include a new central air conditioning system, larger windows, new balconies and a new canopy for the ground level terrace.

Demolishing 40 percent of the rear portion of the Ocean Surf Hotel at 7436 Ocean Terrace, as well as demolishing the rooftop penthouse and all partition walls, fixtures and finishes on the ground level.

A staff analysis recommended against granting the developers’ request for setback variances to accommodate the construction of balconies in the proposed residential building, as well as a gym terrace, pool deck and mechanical room on the rooftop of the Broadmoor Hotel.

“Such construction is contrary to the purpose of the newly created overlay district,” the analysis states. “These variances are design-related and not related to the retention of the contributing structures or the character of the historic district.”

Ocean Terrace Holdings agreed to work with city staff on reconfiguring the setbacks, which helped the company win the historic preservation board’s approval. “There is a lot of demolition here,” said board member Scott Needleman. “We are not always in favor of it, but we are going to go along with it. Overall, I like it.”

Following the meeting, Scher called the outcome an “important milestone.” He and Blavatnik’s plans have faced stiff resistance for years. In 2015, Miami Beach voters rejected a zoning change proposal that would have allowed for the project to move forward sooner.

“We can now begin to explore a partnership with a hotel flag and work on the economic details to ensure the project can successfully be completed,” he said.

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