By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – A proposal to develop new hotels on Lincoln Road has city commissioners questioning what the environmental impact will be on the popular Miami Beach hub. Now a second developer has introduced a similar proposal to the Lincoln Center during the city’s land use committee meeting.
Two months ago, real estate investor Sam Herzberg, owner of the Sterling Building on Lincoln Road, introduced the idea of expanding his property to host hotel rooms. On his behalf, attorney Mickey Marrero asked Miami Beach commissioners to allow multi-story rooftop additions up to 75 feet. Currently, the high limit is 50 feet.
Additionally, Herzberg requested that the city get rid of parking requirements for the hotel units. His proposal features 200 square foot rooms as opposed to the 335 square foot requirement.
The Lincoln Center is an apartment building with a ground-floor retail annex on Euclid Avenue. Lincoln Center Associates, owned by real estate investor Mel Schlesser, want to build a multi-story hotel addition.
Monika Entin, an attorney for the Lincoln Center Associates, spoke to the city commission Wednesday, May 22nd. The Lincoln Center Associates are also seeking a hotel room size reduction and parking adjustment. The proposed room sizes are 240 square feet and the amount of rooms have not been specified.
Miami Beach Planning Director Thomas Mooney is drafting new legislation to increase the height limit for hotels on the north side of Lincoln Road from 50 feet to 75 feet. The new ordinance would reduce the minimum size of hotel rooms from 335 square feet to 200 square feet, reduce off-street parking requirements and allow for multi-story rooftop additions.
The proposal has mixed reviews from city officials. “I like this particular project, I mean it’s beautiful. I think it will enhance Lincoln Road,” Commissioner Ricky Arriola said of the Sterling project.
However Commissioner Góngora said at the meeting, “My biggest concern is that this is an ordinance amendment that, if it goes forward, is upzoning the entire north side and the entire south side of Lincoln Road.”
Adding, “If we allow everybody to up zone their property to build hotels, the rents are going to go up higher beyond their currently astronomically high amounts and we’re going to price out any possibility of a mom or pop shop.”
“We’re just going to start to look more like Brickell, for lack of another word, than keep our unique character that Morris Lapidus intended so I’m not excited about this item. I’m not a hard no but I don’t really understand yet what the benefit to the residents would be.”
“I’m mindful of some of the things Commissioner Góngora said about Morris Lapidus’ vision for Lincoln Road but that was another time and another era when Miami Beach was a winter retreat for folks, not a year-round city people lived in,” Commissioner Arriola said.
“It’s important to reflect on the past but not be completely wed to it at all costs because times change,” he added.
Commissioners Arriola and John Alemán voted to move both proposals out of the Committee. Góngora voted “no” dependent upon public benefit proposals.
“I am very hesitant on this,” Góngora said. “For me to ultimately wrap my head around this and for me to be a ‘yes’ vote, there needs to be an adequate public benefit.”