New York developer Michael Shvo has obtained the zoning to build a 200-foot-tall tower in South Beach, and now another hotelier wants to get in on the action.
On Wednesday, the Miami Beach City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance that will allow ground floor additions up to 200 feet tall for properties more than 115,000 square feet in size that are located between 16th and 21st streets along Collins Avenue in the Architectural Historic District, an area often referred to as the Art Deco district.
The code was pushed by Shvo, who co-owns the Raleigh Hotel at 1775 Collins Avenue along with Turkish businessman Serdar Bilgili and Deutsche Finance America. Shvo and his partners bought the Raleigh from fashion designer and clothing line founder Tommy Hilfiger for $103 million. They also have a contract to buy the neighboring Richmond and South Seas hotels.
Together, the three properties have more than 125,000 square feet of land. Shvo intends to build the residential tower at the rear of the three hotels, and continue running The Raleigh as a hotel, according to a spokesperson.
But just prior to the commission voting on the ordinance, land use attorney Jeffrey Bass, representing the Marseilles Hotel at 1741 Collins Avenue, asked if it was possible to lower the threshold for a 200-foot tower to 100,000 or 110,000 square feet in size. “The smaller hotels on the narrower lots can’t compete with the bigger tower developments that offer ocean views,” Bass explained. To “remedy that” the city could shrink the minimum size lot for a 200-foot tall tower, enabling the Marseilles to be part of a future assemblage as well.
Bass represents M.C.M. Corp., the lessee of the 112-room Marseilles Hotel. Records show that Synergetic Real Estate of Florida, the same family run company that is contracted to sell the South Sea Hotel to Shvo’s team, is also listed as the fee owner of the Marseilles.
The Marseilles’ narrow property is 29,400 square feet in size and is wedged between the South Seas Hotel and an 82-room hotel at 1731 Collins Avenue. Robert Balzabre’s Chisholm South Beach Properties owns the 1731 Collins Avenue Hotel and the abutting 103-room Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel, properties that total 81,600 square feet.
Planning Director Tom Mooney told the commission he had no objection to lowering the threshold. Under the current 125,000-square-foot minimum, only two properties qualify for a 200-foot-tall building: The Raleigh properties being assembled by Shvo, and the Shore Club at 1901 Collins Avenue, now owned by Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Capital Group. If the minimum lot size is lowered to 110,000 or 100,000 square feet, Mooney told the commission that one other property could qualify for a tower, though he didn’t name which property.
Daniel Ciraldo, executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League, was supportive of the possibility of a tower on a lot with historic buildings that’s 125,000 square feet in size, but not any lower. “We haven’t had the opportunity to meet with this group to see what their plans are,” Ciraldo said. “It seems pretty unfair to have this significant change without the benefit of a dialogue.”
Commissioner Mark Samuelian agreed with Ciraldo, and felt the idea of lowering the minimum size to 110,000 square feet should be discussed first.
“[Shvo’s] project has been heavily vetted,” Samuelian said. “Let’s hear this in committee and have it go through a similar track [as Shvo].”
After approving the ordinance as is, the commission referred the smaller lot size proposal to its land use boards.
“It’s not my intention, in any way, to slow this down,” Bass said.