Will Miami Beach make a deal with Russell Galbut?

Crescent Heights is offering Miami Beach land so it can build a taller building at Fifth and Alton

Rendering of the proposed changes and Russell Galbut
Rendering of the proposed changes and Russell Galbut

Developer Russell Galbut wants to make a deal.

Galbut is offering the city of Miami Beach up to 4 acres of land in exchange for the ability to build a taller tower on a nearby site.

Galbut’s Crescent Heights can build low-rise buildings with up to 510 units, but the developer has been chasing approvals for a 25-story tower with fewer units. The city commission will discuss the two options at its Wednesday meeting and will likely refer it to the land use committee, according to a letter from Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

The properties in question are part of the Wave mixed-use development, and include the three blocks between Alton Road and West Avenue from Fifth to Seventh streets where the South Shore Hospital shell remains.

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The city will discuss giving Crescent Heights a variance to build the taller and less dense tower on Alton and Fifth Street. In exchange, the developer would donate the majority of the remaining land on Sixth and Seventh streets for a park, according to Gelber’s letter. The proposed rendering shows a 42-story building at 500 Alton Road and park space fronting West Avenue behind a planned apartment building with ground floor retail.

The mayor said he is “not a big fan” of the already approved plans for lower buildings “as all it will do is bring greater intensity into an already congested intersection.”

Galbut has been trying to increase the project’s height for years. In 2016, he secured the OK from the city commission to seek land use board approval for revised plans. At the time, he offered the city 20,000 square feet of space for a five-story transit hub for the then-proposed $400 million light-rail system – all in exchange for the height increase at 500 Alton Road.

Plans for the Wave include apartments, 63,000 square feet of commercial space and a 122,000-square-foot outpatient and medical complex for Baptist Health South Florida, the latter of which is under construction.