The Coast Guard is hoping to block the Related Group’s proposal to build a luxury condo tower on Terminal Island, issuing a warning that the project could provide criminals and other unwanted interlopers with a bird’s eye view of the Coast Guard Miami Beach station’s highly sensitive missions.
During a land use and development committee meeting Wednesday morning, Coast Guard Capt. Harry Mautte said the proposed building would face the west side of the base where the agency’s cutters unload narcotics and migrants intercepted at sea. In addition to possibly compromising the integrity of interdiction missions, individuals could also spy on Coast Guard personnel entering and leaving the base from the balconies of the condo tower, Mautte said.
Related is proposing to build One Island Park, a 34-story tower with 90 high-end condo units.
“The last thing we need is a building that is towering over us at 480 feet which anyone with a camera can put it up on social media in seconds,” Mautte said. “When people can monitor the names on the uniforms of people walking off the cutters into their cars and following them home is concerning to us. It is not unheard of.”
Mautte’s comments signals Related Group could be in for a protracted battle with the Coast Guard as it pushes forward with its proposal. The land use committee did not take any action, but the developer has formally submitted applications to change the property’s zoning and amend the city’s comprehensive master plan on Terminal Island from industrial to commercial use, as well as allow a residential use on the waterfront.
Miami Beach Planning Director Thomas Mooney said the applications could be heard by the city’s planning board as early as October.
Related commissioned Arquitectonica to design One Island Park, which would rise on a site the developer purchased for $9.94 million in 2013. In exchange for allowing the condo tower, Related would build a new 50,000-square-foot fleet maintenance and sanitation facility valued at an estimated $28 million, according to a spokesperson for the developer.
Jon Paul Pérez, a vice president at the company, and Related’s land use lawyer Tracy Slavins said a residential building is the best option for redeveloping the site because it would generate less traffic than what the developer could build under the current zoning: a cruise ship terminal or an office building. Slavins noted that the property used to be a cargo terminal that generated 125,000 semi-trailer truck trips annually and caused traffic delays on the eastbound lanes of MacArthur Causeway. Related ceased the terminal operations in 2014.
“The elimination of cargo operations was done in the best interests of the city and for the residents of Miami Beach,” Pérez said. “Since then, we have been working diligently with various neighbors and stakeholders in doing our best to make sure that the port industrial use never returns.”
Pérez also noted that Mautte’s predecessor issued a letter of no objection in 2014, when Related initially proposed a residential building. He said the developer is willing to incorporate elements and components into the building that address the Coast Guard’s security concerns.