This MiMo landmark in Miami Beach could be designated historic – but not before owner locks in zoning changes

Owner Tsay International could seek to build 8-story addition if historic designation is approved
By Francisco Alvarado | July 25, 2019 10:30AM

International Inn (Credit: Phillip Pessar via Flickr)

International Inn (Credit: Phillip Pessar via Flickr)

After more than two years of negotiations, the owner of International Inn in Miami Beach won’t contest a historic designation for the waterfront lodge so long as she can use the property as a full fledged hotel and have the option to build an eight-story addition.

On Wednesday, the Miami Beach land use committee endorsed an in-house proposal to make the 1956 building designed by renowned architect – and Morris Lapidus protégé – Melvin Grossman a historic landmark.

At the same time, the Miami Beach board, made up of three city commissioners, allowed a proposed development agreement between Tsay International and Miami Beach to be considered by the city’s planning board.

“This is a landmark building that many of us want to see preserved and repurposed for a potentially better use,” said Commissioner Ricky Arriola.

The draft agreement states that Tsay will give its voluntary consent to the historic designation upon the city approving amendments to its land use regulations that would allow for a hotel as the main permitted use, a reduction in minimum parking requirements, a bar and restaurant and an increase in the allowable building height from 55 feet to 80 feet.

Tsay International, which is headed by Belsa Tsay, is seeking the height increase for a possible eight-story addition on the northern portion of the property located at 2301 Normandy Drive in Normandy Isles, according to the draft development agreement.

In May 2017, the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board unanimously voted to direct city staff to explore the feasibility of making the International Inn a historic landmark. At the time, the building’s future was uncertain amid a state of disrepair and reports of criminal activity.

Under the current zoning regulations, the property could be redeveloped as a multifamily building as tall as 50 feet. Tsay International paid $3.1 million for International Inn in March 2001, property records show.

Alex Tachmes, Tsay International’s lawyer, said his client sought to work out a compromise following the preservation board’s vote. “If the city decides not to proceed, we will go back to operating the property like we have always done,” Tachmes said. “This was dumped on us and we are trying to work out an appropriate solution.”