Third time’s the charm: North Miami Beach approves $1.5B Dezer project

Developer will seek FDOT approval for widened entranceway east of NE 35th Ave

Gil Dezer and Intracoastal Mall rendering
Gil Dezer and Intracoastal Mall rendering

For the third time, and in spite of opposition from many nearby Eastern Shores dwellers, the North Miami Beach City Commission narrowly approved a development agreement and new zoning plan that will enable Dezer Development to move forward with its $1.5 billion plan to redevelop the Intracoastal Mall.

Next, the developer will need to obtain Florida Department of Transportation approval for a new entranceway. Construction crews will not be allowed to use Northeast 35th Avenue, which is the only way in and out of the neighboring Eastern Shores community. Instead construction crews are to use the mall’s entrance east of that, to be designated as Northeast 36th Avenue, which is to be widened and transformed into the project’s new main entrance, or an access road near the FPL substation farther east.

Dezer Development, led by father and son Michael and Gil Dezer, plan to replace Intracoastal Mall with Uptown Harbour, a $1.5 billion mixed-use project with towers up to 40 stories high. Tuesday’s approval followed first and second reading votes on the ordinances in September and October. Because one commissioner left early and another fell asleep during the second reading last October, Mayor Anthony DeFillipo called a special meeting for a third vote.

Some Eastern Shores residents were hopeful that DeFillipo, who won re-election on November 3rd after defeating a candidate critical of Uptown Harbour, would vote against the project. They insisted that adding two more lanes to 35th Avenue, as well as widening the Intracoastal Mall entrance at Northeast 36th Avenue, would do little to address their traffic concerns.

The 2015 rezoning of the site required “multiple access points” to the property. Commissioner Phyllis Smith questioned why city staff recommended the project’s approval without multiple access points. “This is a no vote,” Smith declared, later adding that “it really appears that the city is working for the developer. It’s really sad.”

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The development calls for 2,000 residential units, a 250-room hotel, 200,000 square feet of office, a 280,000 square foot shopping center, a 50,000-square-foot supermarket, and a 45,000-square-foot gym. Uptown Harbour’s urban plan, designed by architect Bernard Zyscovich, also envisions dredging of a new canal – if developers can obtain the necessary permits from various agencies.

At about 11 p.m., the commission voted 4 to 3 to approve the development agreement and zoning amendments with commissioners Smith, Fortuna Smukler and Barbara Kramer voting against.

“I want to see how the mayor is going to face Eastern Shores after he said he was going to vote no!” Smith screamed as DeFillipo tried to adjourn the meeting. “How is he going to face them?”

“I didn’t say I was going to vote no. I said I was going to reconsider,” DeFillipo said. “We are adjourned!”