Mast Capital wants to build a 290-foot tall Miami Beach condo tower

The latest proposed height for the project is too tall, residents, planners and some elected officials say

Camilo Miguel, Jr. and renderings of the project
Camilo Miguel, Jr. and renderings of the project

Mast Capital CEO Camilo Miguel Jr. wants to build a 290-foot tall condo project near the Julia Tuttle Causeway in mid-Miami Beach. And despite apprehension from some city officials, the proposal is moving forward.

The Miami Beach City Commission on Wednesday agreed to transmit Mast Capital’s request for additional height and other zoning variances to the city’s planning board. Mast Capital will also be presenting its Arquitectonica-designed plans for the project to the Miami Beach Design Review Board, said Miami Beach Planning and Zoning Director Tom Mooney.

The current proposed tower is the latest iteration the developer has planned for the site at 4000 Alton Road. In February 2016, Mast Capital launched sales of 3900 Alton, which was then planned as an eight-story, 78-unit condo development. It was slated to be completed in 2019. But those plans were scrapped.

Now, Mast Capital will need variances to build the 290-foot-tall, 160-unit condo tower on a 2.3-acre site near Talmudic University. Currently, height at that site is capped at 85 feet. Mast Capital is also seeking the right to build units as small as 450 square feet, with an average of 700 square feet. The zoning code currently requires that units have an average size of 800 square feet, with the smallest at 550 square feet. Additionally, Mast Capital wants to build a 3,000-square-foot restaurant that would be open to the public.

In exchange for the variances, Mast Capital is offering to turn a 1-acre portion of its property into a public park with playground and fitness equipment, a possible dog park, and a bioswale designed to capture stormwater runoff. The developer also offered to put crosswalks across Alton Road and Barry Street.

Michael Larkin, Mast Capital’s attorney, said the project will serve as an economic “catalyst” for the entire Arthur Godfrey/41st Street commercial corridor.

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However, three Mid-Miami Beach residents spoke out against the project, insisting that the 290-foot tall tower was out of scale in an area where the tallest structure is 75 feet tall.

City Manager Jimmy Morales and Mooney were also uneasy about the structure’s height. “Allowing a higher height for the proposed site could set a precedent for future efforts to increase maximum building heights, particularly along 41st Street,” Morales stated in a May 13 memo to the mayor and commission.

If the zoning were to be granted, it would be the second time that parcel has received a height increase. In February 2014, when the land was still owned by Talmudic University, the maximum height was increased from 60 feet to 85 feet, so that the eight-story, 72-unit residential building could be built. Eight months later, Mast Capital purchased 81,565 square feet of land from Talmudic University for $17.1 million.

About a year later, Mast Capital sought to increase the maximum height to 150 feet, only to be rejected by the city’s planning board. (Mast Capital is currently negotiating to purchase an additional 17,860 square feet of land from the Florida Department of Transportation just west of the development site.)

Although the 290-foot tall condo project is supported by commissioners David Richardson and Ricky Arriola, the other five elected officials expressed their reluctance to approve such a tall structure.
“You are going to hear a lot of public comment, including from me, that the height needs to come down,” commissioner Michael Gongora said.

Mayor Dan Gelber stated he would also defer to the advice of professional staff, like Mooney. “When he says too tall, I take that very seriously,” Gelber said.