Nearly 15 years after his family acquired and renovated the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Jeffrey Soffer wants to expand his trophy resort.
Soffer is seeking to add a new building that will house more ballrooms and a 500-space parking garage. According to a recent memo sent to Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and city commissioners, the addition would be developed on five parcels Soffer affiliate Fontainebleau Florida Hotel LLC owns about one block south of the iconic, Morris Lapidus-designed building.
The site, on Collins Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets, is currently used as a surface lot and is across from Soho Beach House and Four Points By Sheraton Miami Beach. A spokesperson for Fontainebleau Miami Beach declined comment, but City Commissioner Ricky Arriola told The Real Deal that Soffer and his team approached him about two months ago with rough schematics of the proposed structure.
“They have capacity constraints because they are always booked and need more ballroom space,” he said. “At least in concept, I am OK with it.”
On Wednesday, the city commission will discuss whether they should refer Soffer’s proposal to the Miami Beach Planning Board at Arriola’s request.
“My experience has been that getting a place that can hold 500 to 1,000 people for a wedding, a bar mitzvah or a gala is always a pain in the neck,” he said. “The Fontainebleau is one of the few hotels that has ballrooms big enough. I really don’t have an objection to it.”
Soffer’s plan also includes a bridge for pedestrians and cars that will connect the new building to the Fontainebleau property, which also includes the 37-story Tresor Tower built by the previous owner Steve Muss. According to the memo, the bridge will take all valet traffic from the resort off the street.
The Soffer family-led Turnberry Associates paid $325 million for the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in 2005. The same year, the company purchased the surface lot property for $15 million. Turnberry also spent $650 million on gutting and renovating the 1954 historic hotel.
In March, Soffer split from Turnberry to form Fontainebleau Development after 25 years of working alongside his sister and company CEO Jackie Soffer. Jeffrey’s new firm is the sole owner of Fontainebleau, JW Marriott Turnberry Miami, Turnberry Isle Marina, Turnberry Ocean Club and The Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach (formerly known as Mardi Gras Casino).
Turnberry and Jackie Soffer are the principal owners of Aventura Mall, the Town Center Aventura and three Aventura hotels. She also is developing an 800-key Miami Beach Convention Center hotel in partnership with Terra Group and David Martin.
At the time of the split, Soffer said Fontainebleau Development would capitalize on the brand-name recognition of the Miami Beach resort by expanding to other markets, a decade after his attempt to build the 3,900-room Fontainebleau Las Vegas went bust following the 2008 crash. After filing for bankruptcy protection, billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought the partially built structure for $156 million in 2010.