Our Positions at the April 12th, 2022 Historic Preservation Board

MDPL’s Advocacy Committee has reviewed the following applications and offers our positions below. Please note, the lack of a position on a project does not indicate support for or opposition to that project. To review the Historic Preservation Board Agenda, including public participation information:

Click Here

CONTINUED ITEMS

2. HPB21-0486; 411 Michigan Avenue, 419 Michigan Avenue & 944 5th Street

Current site

Proposed Structures

View Item Details:

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the total demolition of one existing building, the renovation, restoration and relocation of one existing building, the construction of a new office building, a variance to eliminate the open court requirement and one or more waivers.

more details->411 Michigan Ave

City of Miami Beach Staff Report Recommendation (excerpt below, click here to read the full report):

Staff Analysis: Staff would preface this analysis by noting that the subject site has remained vacant for some time, notwithstanding the two separately approved development projects noted in the Background section of this report. The site is comprised of three lots, the northern two of which are part of a previously proposed hotel development that was never completed. However, the foundation and basement levels for this project were built, and are currently located on these two lots.

The southern lot contains two Contributing buildings: i. a 2-story multi-family building located at the center of the lot; and ii. a 1-story rear accessory building located along the alley. The applicant is currently requesting approval for the construction of a new office building and parking garage, the total demolition of the rear 1-story accessory building and the relocation, elevation and restoration of the 2-story center building.               

Relocation, elevation and restoration of the 2-story center building               

The center building located at 411 Michigan Avenue was constructed in 1934 and designed in the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture. The modestly detailed building incorporates some architectural features, including a mission style parapet and groupings of scuppers. The applicant is proposing to restore and relocate the building from the center of the lot westward, along Michigan Avenue. Additionally, the building is proposed to be elevated approximately 4’-1” from 4.87’ NGVD to 9.00’ NGVD. Staff is supportive of the elevation and the proposed relocation to a more prominent location on the site which will ensure its preservation for the future.               

Staff does have one concern relative to the raised terrace along Michigan Avenue. As currently designed, the solid masonry guardrails and raised terrace give the appearance of an over 7’-0” tall wall. As such, staff recommends that the transition from the sidewalk to the terrace be further refined; this may include a different railing type and/or the introduction of an intermediate terrace or planter.               

Total demolition of the rear 1-story accessory building

The existing 1-story rear building was constructed in 1933, likely as a 2-car garage. As noted on the building card, the garage was built by the owner and no original permit plans have been located. The building contains modest architectural detailing similar to the main residence. In 1954, the structure was converted to residential use. Staff has no serious concerns relative to the demolition of this building and would note that this structure has been altered over time. Further, the rear accessory building is only visible from the alley. Finally, staff would note that this building was approved to be demolished as part of the 2012 Board approval.

New 5-story mixed use office building       

Located on one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the City, the proposed office building is generally compatible with its neighbors in terms of its overall scale and massing. The architect has successfully created an active street presence along both 5th Street and Michigan Avenue, even with the challenges associated with retaining and incorporating foundation and basement structure from the prior project. To this end, the architect is proposing intermediate planter areas with integrated seating, allowing for an appropriate transition from the sidewalk to the raised terrace. This will serve to greatly enhance the pedestrian experience along the site. Further, staff is supportive of the overall contemporary design language of the proposed structure which incorporates variations in surface materials resulting in a project that responds well to existing historic district and the site conditions.   

Staff does have some concern relative to the impact the balcony structures on the south side of the building have on the relocated Contributing building. Although the architect has set back the first level of the south facing balconies adjacent to the 2-story building, as presently designed, the upper balconies have an adverse impact on the site. Staff recommends that the architect explore ways to minimize the impact of these structure on the Contributing building. Staff also recommends that all allowable encroachments at the roof level be reduced to the greatest extent possible.       

3-level parking lift enclosure       

In addition to the basement parking below the new office tower, the applicant is proposing to construct a semi-enclosed parking structure along the south property line, to the immediate east of the relocated 2-story contributing building. This parking structure, which is 25 feet in height and can accommodate the vertical stacking of 3 vehicles (for a total of 27 parking spaces) is proposed to be accessed via an internal driveway. The parking structure is enclosed with solid walls along the entire south side, as well as the returns to the north, and incorporates open breezeblocks on the north elevation. The applicant is proposing a landscaped wall on the sides and rear.

The plans distributed to the Board for the March 8, 2022 meeting proposed a setback of 1’-3” from the south property line for this structure. After discussions with the immediate neighbor to the south, the applicant has revised the plans and is currently proposing to setback the parking enclosure and additional 3’-9”; resulting in an overall setback of 5’-0” from the south property line. This modification will help to minimize the impact of this structure on the Contributing building located on the abutting property to the south. This adjustment however, reduces the interior drive aisle to the north of the building to 20’-0”, where a minimum of 22’-0” is required. The applicant has indicated that they will submit an application requesting a variance for the 2’-0” reduction. Due to the required public notice, the earliest that this request could be heard by the Board would be at the June 14, 2022 meeting. Consequently, staff recommends that the parking enclosure and associated driveway not be approved at this time and return to the Board with the variance request at a future meeting.           

Off-street loading waiver           

The applicant is requesting a waiver of the off-street loading space requirements outlined in Section 130-101 of the City Code. The project is required to provide three off-street loading spaces. As currently proposed, the applicant is not providing any off-street loading spaces. The Historic Preservation Board may waive the requirements for off-street loading spaces for properties containing a Contributing structure, provided that a detailed plan delineating on-street loading is approved by the Parking Department. Staff would note that while technically the applicant is not providing any loading spaces on site, there may be opportunities when the internal driveway could be used for off-street loading. The applicant has preliminarily met with the Parking Department and will submit an on-street loading plan as required. Consequently, staff does not object to the granting of this waiver.           

Finally, it is important to note that the proposed project requires a Conditional Use Permit for a development project greater than 50,000 gross square feet, including the use of mechanical parking to be reviewed and approved by the Planning Board. On January 25, 2022, the Planning Board reviewed and approved the application with regard to important issues related to the operations of the project, including parking, traffic, noise, deliveries, sanitation and security.           

VARIANCE ANALYSIS       

The applicant is requesting the following variance:       

1. A variance to reduce by 450 sq. ft. the minimum required open court area of 450 sq. ft. in order to eliminate the open court requirement. Variance requested from:           

Sec. 142-699. – Setback requirements in the C-PS1, 2, 3, 4 districts.       

(c) For lots greater than 100 feet in width the front setback shall be extended to include at least one open court with a minimum area of three square feet for every linear foot of lot frontage, except for those properties located in the C-PS1 district described in section 142-698(a).       

For zoning purposes, the front of the lot is located along Michigan Avenue and the open court area is required to be provided within the front setback. The purpose of the open court requirement is to break up long uninterrupted building mass and reflecting the historical development pattern of this portion of the city. Staff would note that in this instance, the proposed office building would occupy approximately 70% of the width of the site and the remaining width is dedicated to the relocated 2-story Contributing building and the internal driveway. Staff believes that the location of the driveway and 2-story Contributing building along Michigan Avenue effectively serve the purpose of the open court requirement. As such, staff finds that the unique site conditions including the retention of the Contributing building justify the granting of the variance.               

RECOMMENDATION

In view of the foregoing analysis, staff recommends that the application be approved, subject to the conditions enumerated in the attached draft Order, which address the inconsistencies with the aforementioned Certificate of Appropriateness criteria and Practical Difficulty and Hardship criteria, as applicable.

MDPL Position [updated for 4-12 HPB]

We thank the applicant and their team for their presentation to the advocacy committee. We understand their objectives and design plan. This site has been an eyesore for many years due to the previously approved project never having been completed. 

We are enthusiastic about the plan to elevate the historic building on the site and make it more prominent by moving it closer to the street. We thank the applicants for their commitment to historic preservation in this regard.

However, we are not able to support the overall project as currently proposed due to significant concerns related to certificate of appropriateness standards. Even, with a few extra feet setback from the adjacent neighbors, the overall compatibility, scale, remain.

Compatibility: we have concerns about the contextuality of the new construction and how it relates to historic buildings and surroundings, in particular to the low-scale south of fifth historic neighborhood and lack of distinct but compatible design methodology of the project. The building as currently proposed is out of scale to the historic district and would encroach on the neighboring properties – particularly to the south – in a way that we do not believe would be sensitive or compatible to its surroundings.

We understand that the owners would prefer to build on the foundation of the previously approved but unfinished project on the site. However, this element of their program greatly increases the overall scale of the structure, creating a large indoor atrium that pushes all sides of the building outward. As such, we oppose the design as currently proposed, including the setback variance.

3. HPB21-0495; 622 15th Street

Current site

Proposed Changes

View Item Details

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the partial demolition, renovation and restoration of the building on the site, the classification of the rear accessory building as Non-Contributing, the total demolition of the rear accessory building, the construction of a new detached rear addition and variances from the required setbacks and the minimum average apartment unit size.

more details->622 15 Street

City of Miami Beach Staff Report Recommendation (excerpt below, click here to read the full report):

Staff Analysis: The applicant is proposing the renovation and restoration of the primary building at the front of the lot and the construction of a new detached 3-story addition at the rear of the site. In order to construct the addition, the applicant is proposing the total demolition of the 2-story rear accessory building. The existing rear structure is classified as Contributing within the Miami Beach Historic Properties Database. Per City of Miami Beach code section 142-155(a)(3)(g):

Only those portions of a contributing building that were not part of the original structure on site, or that have not acquired any type of architectural significance, as determined by staff or the historic preservation board, may be proposed to be demolished.

The applicant is requesting that the Board re-classify the rear structure as Non-Contributing as a part of this application.   

Re-classification request           

On May 14, 1994, Section 19 of Miami Beach Zoning Ordinance No. 89-2665, entitled “HISTORIC PRESERVATION BOARD AND HISTORIC DISTRICT REGULATIONS”, was amended to require that non-individually designated historic sites in historic districts be listed in the Miami Beach Historic Properties Database are classified as either Contributing or Non-Contributing only. The definition of a “Contributing Building, Structure, Improvement, Site, or Landscape Feature”, in said Ordinance reads as follows:           

One which by location, scale, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling or association adds to a local historic district’s sense of time and place and historical development. A Building, Structure, Improvement, Site or Landscape Feature may be Contributing even if it has been altered if the alterations are reversible and the most significant architectural elements are intact and repairable.           

Pursuant to Subsection 118-534 (b) of the Land Development Regulations of the Miami Beach Code, the Historic Properties Database may be revised from time to time by the Historic Preservation Board, in accordance with procedures set forth in said Subsection.           

The 2-story multi-family residential building located at the front of the lot was constructed in 1925 and designed by J. C. Gault in the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture. A 2-story accessory building was constructed at the rear of the site either concurrently or shortly thereafter (as it appears in a 1927 aerial photograph). Staff has located original microfilm plans and elevation drawings of the main structure; however, no plans have been located for the accessory building. Interestingly, the original construction of the accessory building is not identified on the Building Card and the structure is not mentioned until 1956 when a Certificate of Occupancy was issued for two residential units. Based upon a 1941 aerial photograph that shows a driveway leading to the accessory building, staff can assume that at least a portion of the ground level included a garage.

Regarding the requested classification of the rear accessory structure, staff would note that the building has been altered over time including the conversion of the garage into a residential unit. The applicant has provided an excellent historic resources report that outlines many of the modifications to the building. As such, staff has no objection to the applicant’s request to classify this structure as Non-Contributing in the Historic Properties Database. If the Board approves the request for reclassification, staff supports the applicant’s request for the total demolition of the building.

Restoration of the existing Contributing 2-story multi-family residential building       

Staff is extremely supportive of the proposed renovation and substantial restoration of the primary structure along 15th Street. This includes the replacement of all windows and doors with new impact resistant windows and doors with an historically accurate muntin configuration. Additionally, many of the original window openings that have been modified or eliminated over time are proposed to be reintroduced. Most notably, the applicant is proposing to substantially recreate the porch/porte-cochere per the original 1925 plans which staff believes is an essential piece to the originally designed primary façade composition.               

New 3-story detached rear addition           

The applicant is proposing to construct a new 3-story addition at the rear of the site containing three apartments. Staff is supportive of the proposed design and would commend the applicant for proposing to construct a high-quality structure on the site. The new addition, which will be minimally visible from 15th Street, has been designed in a manner that is compatible with the existing Contributing building on the site. To this end, the proposed addition incorporates red terra-cotta cladding referencing the terra cotta roof tiles of the existing building. Further, the new addition is well within the scale of the neighboring buildings and the surrounding historic district.   

Finally, staff would note that even with the construction of this addition, the proposed FAR for the site (0.95 FAR) remains significantly below the maximum 1.25 FAR permitted.

VARIANCE ANALYSIS

The applicant is requesting the following variances:

  1. A variance to reduce by 8’-8” the minimum required front yard setback of 20’-0” in order to construct a porch and porte-cochere at a setback of 11’-4” from the north side property line. Variance requested from:
    Sec. 142-156. – Setback requirements.
    (a) The setback requirements for the RM-1 residential multifamily, low density district are as follows:
    Subterranean and pedestal, Front: 20’-0”
  2. A variance to reduce by 8’-8” the minimum required front yard setback of 20’-0” in order to construct an at-grade parking space at a setback of 11’-4” from the north side property line. Variance requested from:
    Sec. 142-156. – Setback requirements.
    (a) The setback requirements for the RM-1 residential multifamily, low density district are as follows:
    At-grade parking lot on the same lot, Front: 20’-0”

Variances 1 and 2 are related to the construction of a new covered front porch and porte-cochere substantially consistent with the original 1925 design. Currently, the existing building has a non- conforming front setback of approximately 15’-2”. As originally designed the covered front porch extended an additional approximately 8’-0” into the front setback, for an overall non-conforming setback of approximately 7’-2”. The applicant is proposing to construct the porch and porte- cochere with a shallower depth at a setback of 11’-4” from the front property line. This unique condition creates a practical difficulty specific to the substantial reconstruction of the covered front porch and porte-cochere. Staff believes that the variances requested for these elements are necessary in order to retain and restore this historically significant building.   

  1. A variance to reduce by 5’-0” the minimum required rear yard setback of 10’-0” in order to construct a new detached addition at a setback of 5’-0” from the south side property line. Variance requested from:
                               
    Sec. 142-156. – Setback requirements.
                               
    (a) The setback requirements for the RM-1 residential multifamily, low density district are as follows:
    Subterranean and pedestal, Rear: 10% of the lot depth.
                           
  2. A variance to reduce by 29 sq. ft. the minimum average required unit size of 800 sq. ft. for apartments in order to construct a new multi-family residential addition with an average size of 771 sq. ft. Variance requested from:
                               
    Sec. 142-155. – Development regulations and area requirements.
                               
    (b) The lot area, lot width, unit size and building height requirements for the RM-1 residential multifamily, low density district are as follows:
    Average Unit Size (Square Feet): New construction – 800   

Variance 3 is related to the construction of the detached 3-story addition at a rear setback of 5’- 0”. The minimum required setback is 10% of the lot depth (100’-0”), in this case 10’-0”. Staff would note that as part of this application, the primary building on the site is proposed to be retained and restored. Further, as per the additional regulations contained within the RM-1 zoning district for properties located with the Flamingo Park Local Historic District, any new addition must be separated by a minimum of 10’-0” from the rear of the existing building. Additionally, staff would note a 5’-0” rear setback is generally consistent with the existing buildings within this area of the city.   

Variance 4 is related to the minimum average unit size proposed for the new rear addition. The RM-1 zoning district requires that new apartment units comply with a minimum size of 550 sq. ft. and an average size of 800 sq. ft. The new addition contains three units ranging in size from 722 sq. ft. to 802 sq. ft.; however, the proposed average size (771 sq. ft.) is slightly below the minimum 800 sq. ft. required.

Based upon the existing site conditions, including the retention and restoration of the Contributing building, as well as the additional requirements for the Flamingo Park area, staff believes that these special conditions warrant the granting of these variances.

RECOMMENDATION

In view of the foregoing analysis, staff recommends that the Board reclassify the rear accessory building as Non-Contributing within the Historic Properties Database and the request for a Certificate of Appropriateness and variances be approved, subject to the conditions enumerated in the attached draft Order, which address the inconsistencies with the aforementioned Certificate of Appropriateness and practical difficulty and hardship criteria, as applicable.   

MDPL Position [updated for 4-12 HPB]:

We appreciate the design proposal which includes rehabilitation of the main building and bringing back original elements of the design. We applaud the applicant for their design.

However, we cannot support the proposed reclassification of the contributing building in the rear of the lot along with its proposed demolition. We believe this building could be restored. The building clearly reflects the same design style of the primary building and is listed as contributing.

This is not a new position for MDPL. We remain committed to preserving contributing buildings that maintain their architectural integrity and are able to be restored. Removal of such features erases an important characteristic of these historic structures.

NEW APPLICATIONS

4. HPB21-0492; 225 37th Street

Current Structure

Proposed Structure

View Item Details:

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the total demolition of the existing buildings on the site and the construction of a new synagogue and variances from the required lot size, lot width, setbacks, projections and yard elevation.

more details->225 37th Street

City of Miami Beach Staff Report Recommendation (excerpt below, click here to read the full report):

Staff Analysis: The subject property is a substandard sized lot located mid-block on 37th Street between Collins Avenue and Indian Creek Drive. The site is surrounded by a 7-story multi-family residential building to the west and south and two 3-story buildings to the east. The applicant is requesting approval for the design of a new 3-story building to be used as a synagogue. In order to construct the new building, the applicant is proposing the total demolition of the existing structures on the site.

Request for total demolition

The subject Contributing building was originally constructed in 1928 as a 2-story residence (used as a rooming house) with a detached rear garage. In 1986, the Board of Adjustment granted variances for the construction of two additions (a 2-story addition to the front of the house and a 1-story addition to the west side of the garage) on the site as part of the conversion of the property to a religious institutional use.

Staff has evaluated the existing building and the modifications that have taken place over time. While, no original plans have been located, it is clear that the 1986 renovations substantially altered the original 1928 design and little to no original significant architectural details remain. More specifically, the 2-story front addition has subsumed the original front of the home and any significant architectural details that may have been located on the primary façade have been lost. The cumulative effect of these modifications, as well as the change of use from a single-family home to a synagogue, has resulted in a structure that almost certainly bears little resemblance to the original 1928 home. As such, staff has no objection to the proposed total demolition and replacement with a new building that is consistent with the scale and character of the surrounding historic district.

New 3-story building

The applicant is proposing to construct a 3-story synagogue on the site. The building consists of men’s and women’s temple spaces on the first level, living quarters on the second and third levels and a partially below grade ritual bath. Staff is supportive of the application and would commend the applicant for proposing to construct a high-quality structure on the site. The design language of the proposed structure incorporates references to symbols important to the Jewish religion. Additionally, the distribution of architectural forms has resulted in a new building that is compatible with the neighboring buildings and the surrounding historic district. In this regard, the third level of the building has been setback an additional approximately 16’-0” from the primary façade.

Finally, it is important to note that the Planning Board reviewed and approved a Conditional Use Permit (PB21-0476 on January 25, 2022 for the religious institutional use. The Planning Board reviewed the project with regard to important issues related to the operations including traffic noise, deliveries, sanitation, security and overall impact to the surrounding neighborhood.

VARIANCE ANALYSIS

The applicant is requesting the following variances:

  1. A variance to reduce by 3,000 sq. ft. the minimum required lot area of 7,000 sq. ft. in order to construct a 3-story building on a property with a lot area of 4,000 sq. ft. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-217. – Area requirements.

The area requirements in the RM-2 residential multifamily, medium intensity district are as follows:

Minimum Lot Area (Square Feet): 7,000

  1. A variance to reduce by 10’-0” the minimum required lot width of 50’-0” in order to construct a 3-story building on a property with a lot width of 40’-0”. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-217. – Area requirements.

The area requirements in the RM-2 residential multifamily, medium intensity district are as follows:

Minimum Lot Width (Feet): 50

The subject property is a 40’-0” wide by 100’-0” deep lot, platted in 1916 with the same dimensions and lot area as today. The subject lots size is 4,000 sq. ft., where the minimum of 7,000 sq. ft. is required and the lot width is 40’-0” where the minimum required is 50’-0”. Without the granting of variances 1 & 2, the construction of the proposed building, or any new structure for that matter, would not be permitted. Staff finds that the original and existing size of the lot size and width, establishes the hardship that justifies the variances requested.

  1. A variance to reduce by 14’-3” the minimum required front yard setback of 20’-0” in order to construct a 3-story building at a setback of 5’-9” from the south side property line. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-218. – Setback requirements.

(a) The setback requirements in the RM-2 residential multifamily, medium intensity district are as follows:

Subterranean and pedestal, Front: 20’-0”

  1. A variance to reduce by 7’-6” the minimum side interior setback of 7’-6” in order to construct an exterior stair with at a zero (0’-0”) setback and a 3-story building at a setback of 5’-0” from the east side property line. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-218. – Setback requirements.

(a) The setback requirements in the RM-2 residential multifamily, medium intensity district are as follows:

Subterranean and pedestal, Side, Interior: Single lots less than 65 feet: 7’-6”

  1. A variance to reduce by 10’-0” the minimum rear yard setback of 10’-0” in order to construct a 3-story building at a zero (0’-0”) setback from the north side property line. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-218. – Setback requirements.

(a) The setback requirements in the RM-2 residential multifamily, medium intensity district are as follows:

Subterranean and pedestal, Rear: Non-oceanfront lots: 10% of lot depth (10’-0”)

  1. A variance to exceed by 3’-5 3⁄4” the maximum projection of 1’-5 1⁄4” (25%) into the proposed 5’-9” front yard in order to construct a stair with a projection of 4’-11” (85.5%) into the proposed front yard. Variances requested from:

Sec. 142-1132. – Allowable encroachments within required yards for districts other than single-family districts.

(o) Projections. Every part of a required yard shall be open to the sky, except as authorized by these land development regulations. The following may project into a required yard for a distance not to exceed 25 percent of the required yard up to a maximum projection of six feet, unless otherwise noted.

(6)Porches, platforms and terraces up to 30 inches above the adjusted grade elevation fo the lot, as defined in chapter 114.

Variances 3 through 6 relate to the proposed setbacks of the structure. Staff would note that within the RM-2 zoning district, the maximum permitted height is 75’-0”, measured from base flood elevation plus freeboard. In this instance, the applicant is proposing a 3-story, 32’-6” tall building, less than half of the maximum permitted height in order to be compatible with the scale of the historic district. Additionally, as the building is proposed to be a synagogue, the height was purposely limited to a maximum of 3-stories so that an elevator would not be required. This is due to the limitation of elevator usage during Shabbat. Staff believes that this specific religious requirement, the existing undersized lot area and width, and the certificate of appropriateness criteria regarding compatibility of scale, create the practical difficulties that warrant the approval of the requested variances.

7. A variance to reduce by 2.91’ NGVD the minimum required yard elevation of 6.56’ NGVD in order to provide a minimum yard elevation of 3.65’ NGVD. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-216. – Development regulations.

(2) Exterior building and lot standards:

(a.) Minimum yard elevation requirements.

(1.) The minimum elevation of a required yard shall be no less that five feet NAVD (6.56 feet NGVD), with the exception of driveways, walkways, transitions areas, green infrastructure (e.g., vegetated swales, permeable pavement, rain gardens, and rainwater/stormwater capture and infiltration devices), and areas where existing landscaping is to be preserved, which may have a lower elevation.

The above regulation requires that all required yards shall have a minimum yard elevation of 6.56’ NGVD, with exceptions. Staff would note that the majority of the required yards are occupied with walkways which are allowable exceptions, but there are portions of the yards that do not qualify for and exemption and are required to be at the minimum yard elevation. Due to the undersized lot and the approximately 7’-0” change in elevation from the existing sidewalk level (3.65’ NGVD) to the proposed first floor of the building (10.65’ NGVD) there is little room on the site to transition these minimal areas to the minimum yard elevation. As such, staff finds these special conditions warrant the granting of this variance.

RECOMMENDATION
In view of the foregoing analysis, staff recommends the request for a Certificate of Appropriateness and variances be approved, subject to the conditions enumerated in the attached draft Order, which address the inconsistencies with the aforementioned Certificate of Appropriateness criteria and Hardship and Practical Difficulties criteria, as applicable.

MDPL Position:

MDPL appreciates the proposal and the needs of the congregation. We do not believe the application is complete, because it lacks a historic resources report showing the evolution of the building and its history.

MDPL in its preliminary research found the below photo of the original structure. It appears from comparing the aerials in the staff report that the existing structure, a contributing building in the historic district, may still be intact. With the newly uncovered historic photo of the original structure, we would encourage additional analysis of what could be done with the property. Perhaps an alternative can be developed to meet the needs of the congregation while also bringing back the historic structural to its original front facade.

Photo credit: Miami-Dade County

In the architect’s letter of intent, it is mentioned that renovation of the historic structure would trigger the 50% rule, requiring the demolition of the structure. However, with historic preservation incentives, the 50% rule will not require total demolition of the structure.

We encourage further study of this project to determine if there are alternatives to demolition.

5. HPB22-0500; 3900 Collins Avenue & 227 39th Street

Current Structure

Proposed Structure

View Item Details:

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the partial demolition and renovation of the existing building located at 3900 Collins Avenue, including modifications to the lobby and south façade, landscape and hardscape improvements and variances from the required setbacks.

more details->3900 Collins Avenue

City of Miami Beach Staff Report Recommendation (excerpt below, click here to read the full report):

Staff Analysis:The subject site contains two Contributing buildings: 3900 Collins Avenue (originally known as the Copley Plaza Hotel) and 227 39th Street (originally known as the Sherwood Apartments). The currently proposed scope of work is generally limited to the 3900 Collins Avenue portion of the site.

The 3-story Copley Plaza Hotel was constructed in 1940 and designed by Albert Anis in the Art Deco style of architecture. In 1955, a pool and deck were constructed in the courtyard at the southeast corner of the site, facing both Collins Avenue and 39th Street. In 2003, the Board approved (HPB 1632) the significant restoration of the building and modifications to the hotel lobby. The applicant is currently proposing a renovation of the interior and exterior public spaces.

Hotel lobby modifications

The applicant is proposing a renovation of the original hotel lobby space which is primarily limited to new furnishings and fixtures. Significant architectural features including the cove ceilings and terrazzo flooring are proposed to be retained and restored. Additionally, the existing bar counter located within the southwest portion of the lobby (approved by the Board in 2003) is proposed to be replaced. Further research by staff has revealed that the wall behind the bar counter contains an original faux fireplace, currently obscured. In light of this information, staff recommends the design of this wall area be simplified to give more prominence to this significant original architectural feature. Additionally, within the northwest corner of the lobby, the applicant is proposing to relocate the office including the removal of a portion of non-original wall to be replaced with a decorative screen. Overall, staff is supportive of the proposed lobby design with the exception of the proposed built-out wall area adjacent to the front door which is not consistent with the original lobby design. Finally, staff recommends that the existing automatic sliding doors within the original entry be replaced with new swing doors consistent with available historical documentation.

Ground level south façade opening modifications

The applicant is proposing to reconfigure several openings along the south courtyard façade in order to introduce a new folding door system. Staff would note that portion of the building originally contained hotel rooms and these openings were previously modified including the conversion of two of the window openings to doors. The modifications include the removal of the wall areas between the existing door openings and the conversion of the double swing doors into single swing doors. Between these single doors, a new six-panel folding wall system is proposed to be introduced. Given the fact that these openings have been previously modified and the fact that this area of the building is not visible from Collins Avenue or 39th Street, staff has no objection to this proposal.

Courtyard modifications

The applicant is proposing a significant renovation of the courtyard area including the removal of the pool to be replaced with two plunge pools and the introduction of a new wood deck and wood trellis structure. Staff has no objection to the modifications proposed which will result in a significant reduction of hardscape within the courtyard enhancing the guest experience of this Art Deco hotel.

Finally, while very supportive of the proposed renovation, staff has included several recommendations in the attached draft order which should enhance the historic character of the property.

VARIANCE ANALYSIS

The applicant is requesting the following variances:

1.     A variance to reduce by 13’-4” the minimum required front yard setback of 20’-0” in order to construct a deck and trellis structure at a setback of 6’-8” from the east side property line. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-218. – Setback requirements.

(a) The setback requirements in the RM-2 residential multifamily, medium intensity district are as follows:

Subterranean and pedestal, Front: 20’-0”

2.     A variance to reduce by 4’-3” the minimum side facing a street setback of 10’-0” in order to construct a deck and trellis structure at a setback of 5’-9” from the south side property line. Variance requested from:

Sec. 142-218. – Setback requirements.

(a) The setback requirements in the RM-2 residential multifamily, medium intensity district are as follows:

Subterranean and pedestal, Side, Facing a Street: Lots equal or greater than 65 feet in width: Minimum 10 feet or 8% of the lot width, whichever is greater.

Both variances are related to the proposed renovation of the hotel courtyard area located at the southeast corner of the site. Currently, the courtyard is nearly completely paved with the exception of the pool. The applicant is proposing to remove the existing pool and paving and introduce a new landscape and hardscape design. Staff would note that the existing pool and neck were legally permitted and constructed in 1955. The proposed plan will reduce the nonconformity and allow for the introduction of additional landscape resulting in a condition that is more consistent with the current Land Development Regulations of the City. Staff believes that the variances requested for these elements are necessary in order allow for the modest renovation of this historically significant building.

RECOMMENDATION

In view of the foregoing analysis, staff recommends the request for a Certificate of Appropriateness and variances be approved, subject to the conditions enumerated in the attached draft Order, which address the inconsistencies with the aforementioned Certificate of Appropriateness criteria and Hardship and Practical Difficulties criteria, as applicable.

MDPL Position:

We appreciate the efforts to restore the lobby and to update the ground floor program to meet the needs of the ownership. The expanded restaurant and garden upgrades will bring new life to this Albert Anis design.

As far as the demolition proposed for the side of the building, we would encourage the exploration of a more sensitive program that would allow for the windows/doors to be replaced at a future date. As an example, extending the central window to become a door, and leaving the other two doors as-is, might meet the needs of the program while reducing the level of demolition.

6. HPB22-0502; 301 Ocean Drive

Current  Structure

Proposed New Railings

View Item Details:

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the replacement of existing cast concrete and solid masonry railings with new aluminum railings.

more details->301 Ocean Drive

City of Miami Beach Staff Report Recommendation (excerpt below, click here to read the full report):

Staff Analysis: The existing 6-story building located at 301 Ocean Drive was constructed in 1967 and is classified as Non-Contributing within the Historic Properties Database. The building is currently undergoing renovations including significant concrete restoration. Staff has been in correspondence with the project engineer and condominium association with regard to the existing balcony and walkway guardrails. The engineer has expressed concern relative to the weight of the existing solid masonry and cast concrete railing material and its replacement in-kind. As such, the condominium association is requesting approval for a new aluminum guardrail system throughout all sides of the building.

The applicant is proposing to replace the existing balcony guardrails on the east, west and south sides of the building with a new vertical picket railing design that has been inspired by the existing cast concrete guardrails. Staff has no objection to the use of a lighter material and is supportive of the proposed railing design. Two options are proposed for the replacement of the existing solid masonry guardrails along the north side of the building: option 1 is the same vertical picket railing design as the balconies and option 2 is a perforated aluminum panel. Staff believes that the more solid perforated panel option may be more consistent with the original design however, staff has not objection to either option.

RECOMMENDATION
In view of the foregoing analysis, staff recommends the application be approved subject to the conditions enumerated in the attached draft Order.

MDPL Position:

We appreciate the proposal to update the railings. The new railings proposed are not unattractive, however we believe that with further study the railings can better match the original design.

7. HPB22-0506; 1 Lincoln Road and 1671 Collins Avenue.

Proposed Structure

View Item Details:

An application has been filed requesting a rehearing of the December 13, 2021, decision of the Historic Preservation Board to deny, without prejudice, a Certificate of Appropriateness for the partial demolition and renovation of two buildings on the site, the total demolition of one building, the construction of an attached ground level addition at the northeast corner of the site and the construction of an attached addition and modifications to the rear yard site plan. If the request for a rehearing is granted, the original application may be heard immediately.

more details->1 Lincoln Road

City of Miami Beach Staff Report Recommendation (excerpt below, click here to read the full report):

Staff Analysis: In summary, Petitioners fail to establish, as a matter of law, how the HPB overlooked or failed to consider any evidence which would render its decision erroneous. Further, the Petitioners fail to identify newly discovered evidence which is likely to be relevant to the decision of the board Accordingly, no basis for a rehearing has been provided.In view of the foregoing analysis, the Planning Director recommends that the petition for rehearing of the subject application be DENIED.

MDPL Position:

We support the Staff Recommendation to Deny the Petition for Rehearing.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

8. Height Increase for Office Buildings in the CD-3 District – Ordinance

View Item Details:

MDPL Position:

MDPL believes that any height increases proposed in a historic district should be part of an adopted community master plan.

In the case of this proposal, we have concerns about the lack of front setback requirements for new developments located along the east side Washington Avenue north of Lincoln Road and South of 17 Street in the CD-3 zoning district as part of the proposed height increase from 50 to 80 feet.

As presented, the applicant’s proposed project appears to have zero-foot front and side setbacks, which has the risk of overwhelming the historic Greenview Hotel located directly to the north.

This appears to be a situation that may violate the Secretary of Interior Standards if the proposed structure is not sensitive to its adjacent historic structures. Placing the final decision on the Historic Preservation Board – without proactive planning to ensure compatibility of the new structure – may lead to significant delays in the approval/entitlement process.

For this reason, we are making our recommendations public well in advance, in hopes that the HPB and/or Commission can work on additional setbacks to ensure compatibility.

As you are aware, a similar issue has come up regarding compatibility as it relates to a new proposed office project at 5th Street and Michigan Avenue. When the project arrived at the HPB, multiple adjacent property owners voiced their concerns about the lack of setbacks and the overwhelming nature of the new structure.

Now – while the code is proposed to be amended – is the proper time to address setbacks and compatibility concerns, not during design review at a land use board.

9. Collins Avenue MXE Height Amendments

View Item Details:

MDPL Position:

While this may have good intentions, we have serious concerns about a potential 50% height increase for new buildings and additions in our city’s most historic district without basic planning elements in place to ensure compatibility and sensitivity for new construction. This current proposal lacks:

  1. A Master Plan looking comprehensively at the district including proposed land use changes and design guidelines for compatibility of new construction and additions
  2. Renderings and/or massing studies showing what a 75′ addition or new building might look like behind or next to a historic building
  3. Proposals/interest from property owners along Collins Avenue demonstrating how their property could benefit from a 50% height increase

The above three items should be solicited / considered before passing a 50% height increase in the Art Deco District. If passed as-is, this would be the first significant height increase without an adopted community master plan. Our Art Deco historic district deserves better!

Punting the compatibility decision to the Historic Preservation Board to consider on a case-by-case basis is a recipe for tension, lawsuits between property owners, and endless lobbying… such as is happening now on upper Collins Avenue between 17th and 23rd streets.

10. Discussion Regarding Historic Oceanfront Hotels that are currently exposed to the elements and unprotected while awaiting renovation.

11.  State Historic Preservation Office – National Register Nomination for the North Beach Bandshell (7275 Collins Avenue)

12. Collins Canal – possible historic designation (requested by Board member Reed)

13. U.S. Post Office, 1300 Washington Avenue – update (requested by Board member Liebman)

Our Annual Online Giving Event is Happening Now!

Latest Blog Post

Giving Day 2022

We are Now Accepting Donations for our Annual Online Fundraising Event!