“Would stick out like a sore thumb”: SB, Hazelton strike out on Edgewater tower proposal

Miami Urban Development Review Board takes issue with parking podium, proximity to adjacent condo

Miami Board Slams SB, Hazelton Capital’s Edgewater Project

From left: SB Development’s Joseph Stern and Roni Benjamini; Capital Group’s Adam Westreich; renderings of the proposed Edgewater tower (Fogarty Finger, SB Developments, Hazelton Capital Group)

SB Development and Hazelton Capital Group’s proposal for a multifamily tower in Edgewater crashed when a Miami board and neighbors took issue with the 55-story building. 

The developers withdrew their application to tweak the design after hearing an earful at a Wednesday meeting of the Miami Urban Development Review Board, which was ready to recommend denial of the project. 

SB and Hazelton, both based in New York, want to develop the 463-unit multifamily tower at 419 Northeast 19th Street, adjacent to the Cité on the Bay condos and near Margaret Pace Park. The project would offer studios, as well as one- and two-bedroom units, according to a presentation by the developers’ representatives on Wednesday. SB didn’t immediately return an inquiry on whether the units would be apartments or condos. 

Board members commended the architecture of the Fogarty Finger-designed building, but echoed Cité unit owners in slamming the proposal to build the tower on a site they said is too small for a building of this size. 

“I don’t see how this could be done,” said board member Robert Behar. “This is not the site for this building. It’s really not. You are asking for so much. Sometimes you’ve got to look at it and ask, ‘Is this appropriate what you are asking for?’ And in my opinion, not today, at least for me.” 

SB bought the 0.3-acre site last year through a bulk purchase of all 13 units at the Belmar Condominium for $12 million, or $923,076 per unit. The site is “uniquely shaped like the blade of a X-Acto Knife,” Joseph Ruiz, an attorney for the developers, said at the meeting.  

In a statement after the meeting, SB principal Joseph Stern pointed out this is an as-of-right proposal. That means that existing development regulations allow for the tower. 

But due to the site’s shape it “necessitates some flexibility,” and the developers are seeking “standard waivers for minor deviations permitted by the city code,” Stern said. 

Behar raised concerns over the lack of a step-back above the project’s eight-story parking podium on the west and north sides, where the tower would face the Cité condo. 

An agreement entered in August of last year with the Cité association allows for the project as designed, Ruiz responded.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“It doesn’t seem like there is an agreement in place because there’s been a lot of residents that have come to express opposition,” Behar said, adding that the document wasn’t included in the application. 

Four Cité residents spoke at the meeting and 15 other area residents sent emails opposing the project. Their concerns included exacerbation of parking woes, as the tower’s garage would have 172 spaces, as well as the building obstructing Cité units’ bayfront views and deteriorating the area’s quality of life. 

“The design would stick out like a sore thumb and is in no way made to look like the neighborhood,” one resident said in an email to the UDRB that was read during the meeting. Another letter said the project would “wreak havoc” to the area, and a third called the vision to put the tower on a lot that’s too small for the project “absurd.” 

“The size of the units proposed for this building implies they will make it [for] Airbnb … and we already have had problems with other Airbnbs in the area,” Cité unit owner Esther De Varona told the board. 

The application shows the studios would start at 403 square feet. 

The property is in a transit-oriented development zone, allowing the developers to have additional parking off-site, Ruiz said at the meeting, adding that a contract for these spots is under discussion. He also pushed back on residents’ accusations that they didn’t receive a required notice about the project and that the development still needs Federal Aviation Administration height approval, saying that these are “all items that would all have to be satisfied at some point in this process.” 

In his statement, Stern contrasted his project with what’s already in the area, saying that some of the existing buildings are over 48 stories and “substantial in size and volume.” 

“In contrast, our design is slender and thoughtfully crafted to complement the neighborhood and contribute positively to the urban landscape,” he said. 

Founded in 2010 by Stern and Roni Benjamini, SB’s portfolio consists of 20 projects spanning 2 million square feet in New York, according to its application. 

Led by Adam Westreich, Hazelton has been involved in the development, management and ownership of 8 million square feet of commercial real estate, as well as in thousands of apartments, according to the firm’s website and the Edgewater project application. 

Also in Edgewater, SB and Hazelton launched sales in June of their planned 40-story, 116-unit Cove Miami condo project at 456, 480 and 496 Northeast 29th Street. Prices start at $1.3 million.