Billionaires vs billionaires: Developers seek height increase for Aman tower, face opposition from Miami Beach neighbors

Developers are seeking 250 feet; current zoning allows for a 203-foot tall building

TRD MIAMI /
Jul.July 27, 2020 06:15 PM
From left: Vlad Doronin, Len Blavatnik, Ken Griffin, Ken Griffin, Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dinan and a rendering of the project (Getty, City of Miami Beach)

From left: Vlad Doronin, Len Blavatnik, Ken Griffin, Ken Griffin, Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dinan and a rendering of the project (Getty, City of Miami Beach)

A billionaire showdown could be brewing in Miami Beach.

The billionaire developers of the planned Aman-branded tower in Miami Beach are seeking a height increase to 250 feet, and face opposition from billionaire neighbors at the Faena House next door.

A partnership between Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries and Vlad Doronin’s OKO Group proposed a 250-foot tall building in between the Versailles hotel building shell at 3425 Collins Avenue, and the 203-foot tall Faena House at 3315 Collins Avenue. The Aman project calls for a 56-key hotel and 23 luxury condos.

The developer, 3425 Collins LLC, went before the Miami Beach Planning Board on Monday seeking an amendment to the Faena District Overlay. The amendment would allow for the height increase, up from the already approved 203 feet. The board, which was generally in favor of the new design, voted unanimously to defer the item to a meeting on Aug. 25.

During Monday’s meeting, two unit owners and a representative of another unit owner of Faena House spoke in “strong” opposition to the plans. Thomas Stern, who introduced himself as one of the 26 owners at Faena House who oppose the developer’s request, called it “a clear conflict” that Blavatnik is seeking the increase. Blavatnik is the financial backer behind the mixed-use Faena District, which he developed alongside Alan Faena.

“The developer keeps coming back for more height and variances,” said Stern, who is managing director at Chieftain Capital Management. “It’s very troubling the developer is on both sides here. No further height increases and variances should be granted.”

Stern referred to a letter sent to the planning board, which included the names of other owners who opposed the proposed height increase. Among them:

  • Billionaire Lloyd Blankfein, senior chairman and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, along with his wife Laura
  • Goldman Sachs CEO Michael Sherwood and Melinda Sherwood
  • Former U.S. ambassador Paul Cejas and Trudy Cejas
  • Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who founded and runs his hedge fund Citadel. (Griffin paid the highest price for his units, two penthouses, for a combined $60 million in 2015.)
  • Billionaire Jamie Dinan, hedge fund manager and founder of York Capital Management, and Elizabeth Miller
  • Russian oil billionaire Alexander Dzhaparidze and Elena Dzhaparidze
  • Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and Batia Ofer
  • British billionaire hedge fund manager Alan Howard
  • Craig Effron, co-founder of Scoggin Capital Management, and his wife Caryn, a managing director at Ackman Ziff
  • Martin Halbfinger, managing director of wealth management at UBS, and Lynn Halbfinger

Daniel Dokos, head of Weil’s global finance practice, also spoke in opposition.

He said that the developer had assured buyers “of the exact placement of the building” when the 43-unit Faena House was developed in 2015, and that to approve the increase “would be a very poor result for all the members of the building and … members of the public.”

According to the letter’s writers, “such a massive new tower immediately to our north, located closer to the ocean, will obliterate our views to the beach and ocean, cast extensive shade and darkness, and cause other multiple deleterious impacts to our units.”

Faena, who is not involved in the Aman development, had previously planned to build a two-tower condo project on the site, but canceled those plans four years ago due to the slowing market.

Attorney Neisen Kasdin, who represents the developers, said the latest proposal is farther set back from Collins Avenue. “If anything, Faena House will be casting a shadow over this building,” said Kasdin, managing director of Akerman’s Miami office, who referred to a shadow study of the proposed building.

Board members Nick Gelpi and Mike Barrineau said they were in favor of the Aman project’s design, but all ultimately voted to continue the item to next month.

In May, the developers secured a nearly $35 million loan from Bank OZK for the Versailles site. Blavatnik and OKO announced plans for the Aman-branded development in December.

Write to Katherine Kallergis at [email protected]


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