Blavatnik-backed Ocean Terrace development agreement approved

Developers will increase their dev rights in exchange for building a park
By Erik Bojnansky | August 01, 2019 03:30PM

Sandor Scher and Alex Blavatnik with a rendering of the project

Sandor Scher and Alex Blavatnik with a rendering of the project

Alex Blavatnik and Sandor Scher got the green light to build more hotel rooms at their North Beach project in exchange for a park for the city.

The Miami Beach City Commission unanimously approved a development agreement that will enable the Ocean Terrace developers to build 110 hotel rooms instead of 78 rooms. In exchange, Blavatnik and Scher agreed to invest $15 million to convert street segments and a parking lot surrounding the city block, located east of Collins Avenue, into a public oceanfront park designed by Raymond Jungles.

Jungles is the same landscape architect that crafted the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens and the promenade in front of 1111 Lincoln Road.

Scher said he plans to move forward with the project and continue talks with hotel flags to brand the property. As part of the Ocean Terrace project, the developer will also be building a 58-unit luxury residential building, a 200-car parking garage, and 18,000 square feet of retail, partially within the shells of 12 renovated historic buildings.

The development agreement requires Scher and Blavatnik to build the project within eight years. Work on the park and streetscape improvements will begin within 90 days after permits are finalized and the park design is approved by the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board.

The developers are also to pay for 75 percent of the valet parking expenses that the city will provide until a parking garage is built.

As part of the deal, the city will deed portions of 73rd Street, Ocean Terrace and 75th Street to Blavatnik and Scher. This will enhance the developers’ land holdings on Ocean Terrace to 3.3 acres, enough to increase their development rights to accommodate a 110-room hotel, which Scher insisted is needed to attract a high-caliber brand.

However, the city will be granted complete control of the right-of-way, ensuring that the public will have complete control of the land, Miami Beach officials stated.

A half dozen people spoke out against the land deal, many of whom feared that future Ocean Terrace residents could restrict access to the newly created park. Critics also pointed out that 55 percent of voters cast ballots against a density increase on Ocean Terrace in 2015.

But the opponents were in the minority in the commission chambers. About two dozen people, most North Beach residents, spoke in favor of the project, insisting that it will help revitalize a depressed segment of North Beach, including the North Beach Town Center District, a mixed-use zone near 72nd Street and Collins Avenue where voters did approve a density increase in November 2017.

The development agreement’s approval was greeted with thunderous applause by North Beach residents, and business operators. Also cheering loudly were other real estate developers interested in building within the Town Center District.

“It is a win-win for the city and for us and I think that’s the way it should be always,” Blavatnik told the commission after the vote.

Matis Cohen, who is proposing a mixed-use residential and commercial project in Town Center, was even more enthusiastic.

“This is a true catalyst for North Beach development and Town Center,” he said. “This is the crown jewel.”