Ronny Finvarb with the proposed hotel (GEK Architecture)

Developer Ronny Finvarb will not be able to build his planned hotel in Sunset Harbor, but higher office buildings are now allowed.

The Miami Beach City Commission on Wednesday unanimously passed a new overlay district in Sunset Harbor that increases the height limit for office buildings from 50 feet to 65 feet.

The district – bounded by 20th Street, Alton Road, Dade Boulevard, and Purdy Avenue – allows for some residential units in office building projects. In addition, office building developers are granted an exclusive right to group more than six lots within the overlay district. The new regulations are part of a larger effort that Class A office building development in Miami Beach to diversify the city’s economy.

But the new district, with contributions from residents of Harbor at sunsetIt’s five condominium communities, it’s not just about encouraging offices. The district requires conditional use permits for new projects over 25,000 square feet, bans most outdoor speakers, and bans the construction of new hotels.

A sticking point was Finvarb’s plan to build a new hotel on 10,200 square feet on 1790 Alton Road that he bought for $ 4 million in April. Finvarb wanted his hotel rights to become a grandfather, but many Sunset Harbor residents, particularly the leadership of the Sunset Harbor Neighborhood Association, opposed it. When zoning was approved at first reading in May, Miami Beach officials encouraged residents of Finvarb and Sunset Harbor to work out their differences.

The two sides met, but the board of directors of the neighborhood association remained unanimous against the Finvarb hotel. Sara de los Reyes, president of the association, said 244 residents turned down the hotel, demanding that the provision that finvarb grandfather’s project be removed.

Geoffrey Aaronson, the association’s treasurer, said five hotels are already in close proximity to Sunset Harbor, and the vast majority of residents in the area don’t want to go anymore.

“This is a resident-focused residential area and we don’t want this to be the next entertainment district,” said Aaronson, adding that the mood is not against Finvarb, who two of the five hotels built near the port of Sunset.

Aaronson said Finvarb knew Sunset Harbor residents were against another hotel in their area because board members told him so in a meeting on April 5, the day before Finvarb bought the package. “We discussed it for a long time. We told him the association was unanimously against accepting a hotel, but it closed on April 6th. So much for the innocent developer. He knew exactly what was going on, ”said Aaronson.

Finvarb countered that at his meeting with the board of directors, he had already made a non-refundable deposit of several hundred thousand dollars. At that time, the hotel was allowed on the property, he said.
Finvarb’s attorney, Mickey Marrero, said his client agreed to virtually all of the association’s demands, including limiting the number of guests per room, providing 24-hour concierge services, banning outside speakers, and not placing them Washing machines and dryers in the hotel rooms. The only requirement they couldn’t meet was an entrance on Dade Boulevard. “We knew the county would never agree to that,” said Marrero. Another Finvarb attorney, Michael Llorente, threatened legal action if the city did not bequeath his client’s property to his grandfather.

Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak recommended exempting Finvarb’s property from the new regulations because it is on the outer edge of the overlay district, and the developer has volunteered to “keep hotel room occupancy below current to reduce and limit the amount required by the city law. “She explained to the mayor and the commission in a memo. Planning Director Tom Mooney also confirmed that if an apartment building were built on the site, “they could offer short-term rents, which could be daily rents”.

Vice Mayor Ricky Arriola, a board member of Townhomes at Sunset Harbor and a sponsor of the overlay district ordinance, said the neighborhood association never spoke to its association. Arriola said he was for the hotel and felt that its neighbors were being put through a “push poll” that did not mention the legal risk to the city. “This is good business and we should just go ahead and get on with our lives,” he said.

Commissioner David Richardson predicted that the city would be sued and a settlement negotiated with Finvarb that would allow him to build a hotel without the concessions Finvarb is offering if the measure is not passed. Richardson also feared that doing so would send a message to anyone looking to invest in Miami Beach that “we could change the rules for you in the middle of the game, even if it costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars”.

However, Commissioner Michael Gongora countered that property rights are not granted under current Miami Beach law unless the project has already been approved by the Miami Beach Design Review Board, and he would rather be “wrong on the residents’ side.”

Mayor Dan Gelber, Arriola, Micky Steinberg and Richardson voted yes on a vote to approve the overlay district, including a provision granting hotel rights to Finvarb’s property. Commissioners Steven Meiner, Mark Samuelian and Gongora voted no. Because changes to the zone code require five yes votes, the request failed. A second vote approving the overlay district was passed unanimously. Finvarb declined to comment after the meeting.

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