Russell Galbut wants to turn South Beach hotel and adjacent building into offices and restaurants

Developer wants to renovate Art Deco building and offer memberships for Class A office space

Miami /
Apr.April 30, 2021 05:30 PM
Russell Galbut and a rendering of the project (Studio MCG Architecture)

Russell Galbut and a rendering of the project (Studio MCG Architecture)

Russell Galbut is looking to revive the shuttered Bancroft Hotel and an attached commercial building in South Beach as offices and restaurant space.

According to plans submitted to the Miami Beach Planning Board, Bancroft Ocean Five Holdings, LLC, a company managed by Galbut, wants to convert the Bancroft’s rooms into executive office suites and offer memberships for Class A office space. The property is at 1501 Collins Avenue.

The hotel’s ground floor, which previously was home to Quality Meats, would feature a new restaurant. The attached commercial building, known as Ocean Steps, would be renovated to house one centrally located restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining and two smaller restaurants: a cafe and sushi bar.

Galbut, Crescent Heights’ co-founder and managing principal, and Bancroft Ocean Five attorney Graham Penn did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.

In a March 24 letter to Miami Beach Planning Director Thomas Mooney, Penn said the goal is to attract “high-end professionals and digital nomads” to the city by offering them an “unprecedented set of amenities.” In recent months, city officials and developers have begun efforts to lure more Class A office projects in Miami Beach to diversify the city’s tourism-based economy.

“These amenities include fitness facilities and a plunge pool, indoor and outdoor meeting space, and lounge areas,” Penn wrote. “The outdoor meeting areas are proposed for the top of the Bancroft building, as well as the existing roof of the Ocean Steps commercial structure.”

Penn said the suites portion of the Bancroft would only be open to members, who will also have access to food and beverage services provided by the hotel. The proposed restaurant at the Bancroft would have 194 interior seats and 81 outdoor seats, while the one in the Ocean Steps building would have a total of 292 seats inside and outside. The cafe and sushi bar would have a combined 308 seats.

The project requires approval from the planning board and the city commission for a new conditional use permit. The planning board was scheduled to vote on the Bancroft at its meeting earlier this week, but deferred the matter after the owner of several units in an adjoining condominium objected to the project.

Albert Lepage, who owns three condos at 1500 Ocean Drive, believes the restaurants will attract noise and unruly crowds that “will certainly disturb the residents’ peace and quiet,” according to an April 23 letter by his attorney, Kent Harrison Robbins.

Robbins claimed Bancroft Ocean Five submitted a substandard traffic report; that there is no place for cars waiting to valet; and that the developer failed to submit plans for parking, the loading and unloading of service trucks and for controlling crowds.

“Without these critical, relevant and required documents and information, this board does not have sufficient factual and legal information to determine whether there is competent substantial evidence to support the proposed conditional use permit application,” Robbins wrote.

Galbut’s Bancroft proposal is now scheduled for the May 12 planning board meeting.


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