It takes one developer to start a trend.
More than a month since real estate investor Sam Herzberg unveiled a possible transformation of the Sterling Building on Lincoln Road into a hotel, a second property owner wants to do the same to the Lincoln Center, an apartment building with a ground-floor retail annex at 1637 Euclid Avenue.
Monika Entin, an attorney representing Lincoln Center Associates, offered details about her client’s concept to build a multistory hotel addition to the existing three-story 1930s building, during the city of Miami Beach’s land use committee meeting on Wednesday.
Lincoln Center Associates, a company owned by longtime Miami Beach real estate investor Mel Schlesser, purchased the property for $1.1 million in 1986.
“He has been trying to figure out how to improve [Lincoln Center] over the last year,” Entin said. “One of the things he’s thought of is an addition of a hotel.”
Entin explained that Schlesser decided to move forward following the land use committee’s decision in April to explore giving developers height bonuses and relaxing parking requirements to build hotels on Lincoln Road, which are allowed under current zoning regulations. Entin noted that Lincoln Center operated as a hotel until 2001 when Schlesser repositioned the property.
New legislation being drafted by Miami Beach planning director Thomas Mooney and his staff would increase the height limit for hotels on the north side of Lincoln Road from 50 feet to 75 feet, reduce the minimum size of hotel rooms from 335 square feet to 200 square feet, reduce off-street parking requirements and allow for multistory rooftop additions. Herzberg’s Sterling Building proposal would entail placing an addition behind the Sterling Building.
Entin requested that the city create incentives for Lincoln Center, which is on the south side of Lincoln Road. She said her client is seeking a reduction in hotel room sizes to 240 square feet, as well as a reduction in the off-street parking requirement. The new addition would be capped at 50 feet, she added. She did not disclose how many rooms Lincoln Center wants its hotel to have.
Commissioner Joy Malakoff, who attended the land use meeting, said she would support Lincoln Center’s concept even though last month she indicated she did not favor placing hotels on the south side of Lincoln Road due to its proximity to residential properties. Lincoln Center is an exception since it is closer to the retail shops on Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue. “In this particular case, it makes sense,” she said, adding that hotels on Lincoln Road would attract “more high-end visitors to the city of Miami Beach.”
Commissioner Michael Gongora, who is a member of the land use committee, wasn’t as enthusiastic about the idea of hotels on Lincoln Road. “I am very hesitant on this,” he said. “For me to ultimately wrap my head around this and for me to be a yes vote, there needs to be an adequate public benefit.”
The other committee members, commissioners Ricky Arriola and John Elizabeth Aleman, endorsed the proposed changes. The legislation will now go before the city commission, which will vote on whether or not to send it to the city planning board for consideration.