Despite mounting opposition, Miami Beach board endorses taller Aman tower

Former Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez said that recommending approval would “set a very bad precedent”

Renderings of the project, Vlad Doronin and Len Blavatnik (Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett / Getty Images)
Renderings of the project, Vlad Doronin and Len Blavatnik(Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Developers Vlad Doronin and Len Blavatnik can now go to the Miami Beach City Commission with proposed legislation that would allow them to build a 250-foot tall tower on the site of the Versailles building in the Faena District.

The billionaire developers face mounting opposition from nearby residents, including a number of fellow billionaires at Faena House, an ultra-luxury condo building next door.

A partnership between Blavatnik’s Access Industries and Doronin’s OKO Group are proposing to build the tower 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.

Current regulations allow for a 203-foot-tall tower, but the developers are seeking an additional 47 feet in height.

The Miami Beach Planning Board on Tuesday passed a favorable recommendation for amendments to the Faena Overlay District, which would allow the developer to build the taller tower, plus other requests involving setbacks and guardhouses. After more than three hours of discussion and input from the public, board members voted 5 to 2 to recommend the legislative changes. The Miami Beach City Commission could vote on the ordinance in September.

The developers initially went before the planning board in late July, and faced steep opposition from Faena House residents. The item was deferred to Tuesday.

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At Tuesday’s meeting, attorney Niesen Kasdin, who represents the developer, said it was a “gross overstatement to say this is out of character for the neighborhood.”

But neighbors disagreed, including 27 unit owners at Faena House. Unit owner Thomas Stern, citing the city code, said only a limited increase in height would be allowed under city code. “A 47-foot increase in height is hardly limited,” he said, later adding that “what’s being done here and how’s being done are egregious.”

Stern previously called the developer’s request to increase the height a conflict. Blavatnik developed Faena House alongside Alan Faena, who originally planned to build a condo project on the Versailles site, at the previously approved 203 feet in height.

Stern pleaded that the board not “kick the can down the road” toward the commission.

Former Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who spoke during the public comments, said that to recommend the requested amendments would “set a very bad precedent.”

“The Versailles has been sitting there and been allowed to fall into disrepair. Should we be rewarding that? … How many more towers are we going to continue to add?” she asked.

Write to Katherine Kallergis at