News: Developer Would Agree to Limits on Terminal Island

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The developer of a proposed project on Terminal Island is offering to alleviate some residents’ concerns over potential traffic buildups by agreeing to certain provisions to help ensure the development’s scope remains as presented. This, according to a March 24 letter from the developer’s attorney — attorney and former Miami Beach mayor — Neisen Kasdin to City Manager Jimmy Morales.

“We’re going to make it easy,” Kasdin told SunPost this week, in reference to offered caveats for the proposed low-density project.

“Although the exact allocation of uses will be worked out as part of a development agreement with the City of Miami Beach and will need to comply with the Land Development Regulations, we want to articulate the types of accessory uses that could be included in the project to provide comfort to stakeholders in the area that the uses included in this project are low-impact in nature and appropriate for the site,” Kasdin wrote in the letter.

“MBP [Miami Beach Port, LLC] will agree to restrict accessory uses to those that are incidental to and customarily associated with the main permitted uses, subject to the following restrictions on food and beverage establishments:

1. Restaurant, limited to residents and their guests, and to include no more than 1.25 seats per unit.

2. Any snack bar, coffee house, sundry shop, or food market (or combination) located on-site as an accessory to the marina shall be limited to employees, tenants and their guests.

“Furthermore,” Kasdin continued in the letter, “the Project would not include any dance halls, entertainment establishments, neighborhood impact establishments, outdoor entertainment establishments or open air entertainment establishments, as defined in the City’s Land Development Regulations.”

Miami Beach Port, LLC and architect, Starchitect hope to build a 60-unit condo, mega-yacht marina, garage, and accessory use project of about 250,000 square feet. The problems? One, the industrial-zoned property owned by the developer doesn’t permit the required FAR (Floor-Area Ratio) for the proposed likely 20-story development and facilities. Two, it would require a zoning change from its current designation. Three, some resident activists have expressed concern over the proposed development’s potential traffic impact, particularly in light of the coming port tunnel and the in-the-works Flagstone development on Watson Island.

Currently, all of Terminal Island is zoned for industrial use except for a City-owned parcel, which is zoned for government use and utilized by two city departments.

The developer has proposed a “sort-of joint venture,” as described by Assistant City Manager Joe Jimenez. The developer wants the city to rezone its 3.71 acre Terminal Island shipping facility to allow condo development, as well as assign the developer its unused development rights to the adjacent 2.16 acre city-owned fleet maintenance yard, in return for the developer’s building the city a new maintenance facility.

Officials have said that the new facilities would be a boon to the City of Miami Beach, but the City has yet to take a position on the proposed project. Jimenez told SunPost several weeks ago that, “There are concerns and I have expressed those to the developer for months and challenged them to address those concerns,” Jimenez said. “Before the administration enters into any negotiations to even go down that path, we need to hear from the commission. It’s a complex deal and we need to have direction. It’s going to require a lot of man hours on both sides. Before we could have a recommendation, it would require a lot of analysis.”

Of greater concern has been the worries of some residents and activists that the project could morph into a traffic-producing nightmare. Chief among these has been well-known activist Frank Del Vecchio. Del Vecchio is even specifically mentioned in Kasdin’s letter of March 24, with Kasdin asserting that he has been in touch with Del Vecchio, other residents and neighborhood associations. “We have received positive feedback from these groups as a result of our meetings and discussions,” Kasdin wrote.

“[Offered limitations] are totally in sync with what Frank expects or hopes for the property,” Kasdin said. “We never envisioned it any other way. If that wasn’t sufficiently clear before, the letter should do it.”

Del Vecchio could not be reached for comment on the March 24th letter. In an earlier comment to SunPost in regard to the development, Del Vecchio had said that the proposed development is perfectly constructed for uses beyond those initially proposed by the developer. “The developer’s schematics show a multi-level garage whose elevated deck could serve outdoor restaurants and bars, and a 20-story high rooftop with panoramic views that would be a valuable destination restaurant and club location,” he previously asserted.

Kasdin remains upbeat.

“At the end of the day, this proposal will deliver much improved facilities to the City and reposition Terminal Island as a mixed-use gateway into the City, while reducing traffic impacts on MacArthur Causeway. We truly view this proposal as a win-win for the City of Miami Beach, for MBP, and for City residents,” he wrote.

About Michael W Sasser

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