Crescent Heights and Terra’s South Beach mixed-use project wins partial design board approval

Design details for 519-foot-tall project, including residential unit size, will be hammered out at next meeting June 4

David Martin and Russell Galbut with a rendering of Crescent Heights and Terra's 519-foot tall tower
David Martin and Russell Galbut with a rendering of Crescent Heights and Terra's 519-foot tall tower

Crescent Heights and Terra’s 519-foot tall tower and a future park near the MacArthur Causeway won partial approval by the Miami Beach Design Review Board on Tuesday.

The board generally approved Arquitectonica-designed plans for a 46-story, 337-unit residential tower, a 15,000-square-foot retail pavilion, a 578-space parking garage, and a new three-acre park with elevated pathways. They will be forged on three city blocks between 500 and 700 Alton Road, where the skeleton of South Shore Hospital once stood.

However, several design elements and variances were postponed until the next board meeting on June 4 after board members demanded clarifications and changes to various aspects of the project proposed by the developers.

Among the design schemes that failed to get passed was a variance that would allow for the creation of 40 apartment units that were only 480 square feet in size. Under the city’s code, new apartment units must be at least 550 square feet in size.

The majority of the board also didn’t endorse a variance that would enable the creation of detached 110-square-foot signs that would say “500 Alton” and “600 Alton.” Under city code, such detached signs can only be 15-square-feet in size.

Both variances were also rejected by the Miami Beach Planning Board in March.

“Exhausted,” said Russell Galbut, co-founder of Crescent Heights, when The Real Deal asked how he felt following the design review board’s three-plus hour session.

“It’s another step in the right direction,” Galbut later added. “We’re going on over 200 meetings and public engagements, and that’s insanity.”

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Galbut has sought to transform Crescent Height’s South Shore Hospital ever since Hurricane Wilma wrecked it 14 years ago. In November, the Miami Beach City Commission approved a development agreement that would allow Crescent Heights to build the 500,000-square-foot tower in exchange for agreeing to invest more than $18 million on a new park. Prior to that agreement, Galbut intended to convert the 120-foot tall remains of South Shore Hospital into a 281-unit residential tower, as well as a new 75-foot tall, 163-unit building on the 500 block and a 66-unit building at 700 block.

On April 16, the developers imploded the gutted remains of South Shore Hospital.

During Tuesday’s design review board meeting, the board discussed in detail various design aspects of the tower, the retail center, and the park. Galbut defended his desire to build 110-square-foot signs, arguing that they needed to be visible from MacArthur’s overpass, but agreed to see if the “500 Alton” and “600 Alton” signs could be integrated into the building itself.

As for the 40 units that were 480 square feet in size, Galbut stressed that most of the units in the building are far larger. The city’s planning department’s report to the board acknowledged that fact, stating that the average unit size was 1,282 square feet.

Galbut called the 40 small units in the project “service units.”

“When somebody buys a big apartment upstairs, they can buy a smaller apartment for the daughter, son-in-law, what have you,” Galbut explained. “They’re service apartments.”

During an early April community meeting, Galbut claimed that the lower 20 floors of the tower would be apartments and the rest of the residential units would be condominiums, according to RE Miami Beach. Martin, however, told TRD that the condo-apartment formula was still being worked on. “We are still defining it,” he said.

Galbut also expressed doubt that construction on the project would commence in under 32 months, as he previously claimed during that April community meeting.

“We’d like to [break ground] but we now got delayed another 35 days to the next hearing,” Galbut said.