North Beach developers offer city $15M park in exchange for ownership of streets

They would take over ownership of public right-of-ways surrounding $220M project

May.May 22, 2019 06:00 PM
Ocean Terrace renderings, Alex Blavatnik and Sandor Scher

Ocean Terrace renderings, Alex Blavatnik and Sandor Scher

UPDATED, May 22, 11:20 p.m.: As part of their plan to build a $220 million mixed-use project along Ocean Terrace in Miami Beach, partners Alex Blavatnik and Sandor Scher want to take ownership of the public streets and sidewalks surrounding the proposed development.

The potential deal would allow Blavatnik and Scher to include the public right-of-way as part of the project’s footprint. In exchange, the North Beach developers are dangling $15 million in park and streetscape improvements on Ocean Terrace between 73rd and 75th streets. The city would still control the sidewalks and streets and keep them open to the public.

The city’s land use and development committee voted on Wednesday morning to give the proposal a favorable recommendation, although one member, City Commissioner Michael Gongora, expressed discomfort with giving a private developer complete control of public streets and sidewalks.

“We can’t create the perception that we are creating a private park,” Gongora said. “I am super concerned about taking out parking. It is not so great for the rest of the city that wants access.”

The Miami Beach finance committee will evaluate the developer’s offer next week before going before the city commission.

Last January, the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board granted Blavatnik and Scher permission to tear down portions of 12 historic buildings on more than 2 acres of land between 73rd and 75th streets and between Collins Avenue and Ocean Terrace. The new development will be anchored by a luxury hotel similar to Faena Miami Beach, a luxury condo tower, street-level retail, restaurants and a parking garage.

According to memos from City Manager Jimmy Morales this week, the developers want to use portions of the public right of ways on 74th and 75th streets between Ocean Terrace and Collins Avenue as part of the project’s floor area ratio. “The proposed vacation would allow the developer to make its proposed mixed use project financially viable,” Morales wrote.

The developers would sign an agreement with Miami Beach to build the $15 million park and streetscape improvements within 48 months of the city commission approving the deal.

Blavatnik and Scher would also provide the city with an irrevocable easement that would continue to allow public access to the streets and sidewalks. An appraisal obtained by the city determined the public right-of-ways are worth $11 million.

Late last year, Crescent Heights scored approval from the city to build a taller tower on the property at 500 to 700 Alton Road in exchange for a 3-acre public park that will be designed by Arquitectonica GEO, on the 600 block. Crescent Heights, led by developer Russell Galbut, has since brought on fifty-fifty partner David Martin in on the project, called the Park on Fifth.

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