Billionaire Ross’ proposal to upzone Deauville site in Miami Beach fails

Related’s Steve Ross pumped nearly $2M into PAC supporting the ballot question

Related Companies' Stephen Ross and the Deauville Beach Resort (Google Maps, Getty)
Related Companies' Stephen Ross and the Deauville Beach Resort (Google Maps, Getty)

Miami Beach voters rejected a ballot measure that would have given New York developer and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross the ability to build a larger project on the oceanfront site of the historic Deauville resort.

The Related Companies owner’s pending purchase of the Deauville, rumored to be for roughly $500 million, was contingent on referendum 1 passing. The Meruelo family owns the North Beach property at 6701 Collins Avenue that is slated for demolition.

About 47 percent of residents voted in favor of the referendum and just over 53 percent voted against it.

New York-based Related pumped nearly $1.9 million into Yes for a Safe and Strong Future, the political action committee that promoted the ballot question. Ross’ Related proposed a two-tower luxury condo hotel development designed by Frank Gehry on the site of the Deauville, which is set to be demolished by implosion on Sunday.

The building was declared an unsafe structure and ordered to be knocked down earlier this year. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber brought the unsolicited proposal to the city commission in May and supported the referendum.

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Ross said during a city meeting this summer that he would only pursue the purchase if voters approved the ballot question. The referendum did not mention the Deauville, Ross or Related by name. It sought to boost the floor area ratio — or allowable project size — for the 3.8-acre property to 4.5 from 3.0. It also sought to raise the FAR on properties surrounding the Deauville.

“When you’re [building] a world class project, this is going to cost a lot more money, and it’s going to have a lot more impact, and therefore there’s only how many dollars you can pay extra,” Ross said in July. “If you go by numbers, what you typically charge for FAR it’s not going to work in this case … it’s just not another building. So you can negotiate. We’re not interested.”

Related did not respond to questions about the company’s plans for the future.

“While we are disappointed with the outcome, we know North Beach deserves an economic engine, not an eyesore,” according to a statement from Yes for a Safe and Strong Future PAC, which added that the campaign “still believe[s] there’s a brighter future ahead.”

Because the referendum applied to the properties between 6605 and 6757 Collins Avenue, the owners immediately north and south of the Deauville would also have benefitted from an increase in FAR. For lots smaller than 150,000 square feet, or about 3.4 acres, the FAR would have jumped to 3.0 from 2.25.

If the Meruelos keep the Deauville site, they would have to seek approval from the city for any new development they propose on the property. In an e-blast sent Wednesday morning, commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who opposed the referendum, wrote that she would “demand that portions of the Deauville are replicated, and whatever the owners wish to build is in scale with the rest of the neighborhood.”

The city’s lawsuit against Deauville Associates, the Belinda Meruelo-led entity that owns the site, is still open, court records show.  The company had racked up millions of dollars worth of fines prior to the unsafe structures determination, following damage from a fire and from Hurricane Irma.