Recap of the May 10th, 2022 Historic Preservation Board

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Below is a recap of the outcomes from the May 10, 2022 Historic Preservation Board meeting. MDPL’s Advocacy Committee positions from our previous post are included for your reference. 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

To view the video of May 10th’s Historic Preservation Board meeting:

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HISTORIC DESIGNATIONS

2. HPB21-0485, 93 Palm Avenue (Al Capone House) – Designation of an Historic Site

Current site

View Item Details

A presentation by the City of Miami Beach Planning Department to the Historic Preservation Board relative to the proposed historic designation of 93 Palm Avenue as an individual local historic site.

Continued

Continued to the July 12, 2022 meeting. The board requested further research, including the potential to identify the architect – which would help it meet 3 out of the 7 criteria for designation. They also asked for further study on Mr. Capone’s connection to the history and growth of our city.

Finally, members also want to learn more about the original builder of the home, Clarence Busch, who was also the developer of Palm and Hisbiscus Island and had 93 Palm Avenue built on spec as a model home.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair
Motion
Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein

Stuart Reed
Seconded

Ray Breslin

MDPL position (Click to expand)

MDPL asks the Historic Preservation Board to defer this item in order to allow for adequate research necessary to properly document the history and evolution of the property. Sadly, the City of Miami Beach Planning Department’s designation report seems to repeat their already-decided position that the property does not meet the very objective criteria of the historic designation process.

On this note, we believe that further research is needed to determine the architect of the property and other information that appears to be missing from the Planning Department report.

While MDPL was previously contacted by the owners’ representatives to meet and discuss the application, we have not had the opportunity to have a substantive meeting up to this point.

Since the HPB took its action, the structure is now currently protected on an interim basis under the Historic Preservation ordinance – therefore, any demolition or major renovation will go through the Historic Preservation Board during this period – great news. However, once the Board moves on this item, it will go to the Planning Board and then to the City Commission. It is possible that if the designation evidence is not sufficient, the Commission could rule against the designation of the property. This would pave the way for the current owner or a future owner to demolish the property without any HP review.

Therefore, it is imperative that this board and the community have more time to build the case for what is – objectively – one of the most historic homes on Miami Beach. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine Miami Beach without prohibition, Al Capone, Mediterranean architecture, Clarence Busch, and 93 Palm Avenue. Let’s not erase or cancel this important part of our city’s history.

MDPL Prior Position [from January 11, 2022]

MDPL is alarmed by the staff report’s recommendation against historic designation of 93 Palm Island, particularly after providing evidence that the site meets 2 criteria for historic designation. MDPL believes that the site meets more than 2 criteria, although only one is legally required for designation eligibility. The City code, which the HPB is required to follow states in part:

“Sec. 118-592 – Criteria for designation.

(a) The historic preservation board shall have the authority to recommend that properties be designated….. If they are significant in the historical, architectural, cultural, aesthetic, or archeological heritage of the city, the county, state or nation. Such properties shall possess an integrity of location, design, settings, materials, workmanship, feeling or association and meet at least one of the following criteria…””

The architectural significance of this home has been all but erased by the preliminary staff report, which superficially mentions architectural elements that have been altered without highlighting the architectural elements and integrity of site which remain.

Built at an early time of Florida’s history, it is unfortunate but not unusual that the building does not have a listed architect. However, the detailing of the building, its massing, scale, and guest house / main house / cabana house configuration is a notable and it remains one of the earliest examples of the waterfront single-family home typology of Miami Beach.

Its association with Clarence Busch – the original developer of the island, underlines another layer of its history that is glossed over by the City’s report. This notable provenance points to satisfying an additional criterion:

(5) Represent the work of a master, serve as an outstanding or representative work of a master designer, architect or builder who contributed to our historical, aesthetic or architectural heritage

Sea Level Rise Criteria response: City Staff also assert that the home is not worthy of designation because new homes are required to be built at a higher in order to comply with the city’s recent zoning ordinances elevating the required height of new construction. In the case of this neighborhood, a new home would be required to be built 3’6” feet higher than the existing home’s floor elevation.

Far from being a reason to demolish, it should be made clear that this is a normal occurrence on Miami Beach. Staff analysis does not fully inform where the existing home is located in relation to existing sea level and when there may be a risk of sea level flooding. In addition, no analysis is provided of the finished floor of the three individual buildings. Such analysis should be a part of the next step in designation report development.

Our own analysis shows that Miami Beach homes continue to be well above sea level. Weighing the existing home’s finished floor level over its historic value to the fabric of our community is a dangerous precedent that could lead to the end of historic designation.

This issue is important particularly when there is no evidence of near-term risk of sustained flooding from sea level rise at the home. Initial analysis shows the finished floor would not be breached by the mean high water line until approximately 2100, based on existing sea level rise projections. Because of this, historic preservation will likely provide incentives to the owner – including waivers that will allow for the renovation of the property without requiring elevation. Without such designation, it would be unlikely that the property could be renovated without crossing the 50% threshold requiring major upgrades and added cost.

MDPL recommends that the HPB proceed to direct city staff to prepare a designation report in order to move towards the next step: a quasi-judicial public hearing weighing evidence and allowing for public participation. In addition, we respectfully request that this item be continued so as to allow MDPL proper time to prepare its case. The current agenda requirement that all documents be submitted 3 business days before the hearing is a burden on our due process, since the staff report came out only 5 business days before the meeting.

Finally, MDPL remains committed to the survey, identification, and protection of historic resources throughout Miami Beach. Single-family homes are an essential part of the built history and story of Miami Beach. This home in particular meets multiple criteria for historic designation. Demolition of this property would be a substantial loss to the social, cultural, and environmental heritage of our community. We formally request that the HPB recommend designation of 93 Palm Avenue.

CONTINUED ITEMS

3. HPB21-0481, 1901 Collins Avenue — Shore Club Hotel

Current site

Proposed Structures

View Item Details

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the partial demolition and renovation of two buildings on the site, the total demolition of two buildings, the construction of two new additions and landscape and hardscape modifications.

Approved

Motion to approve certificate of appropriateness. The first 8 stories of the new addition will be reduced in length by 30’ and the floor plates will be less than 15,000 square feet.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair

Nancy Liebman
Motion

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Seconded

MDPL position (Click to expand)

MDPL Position [updated for May 10th 2022]

We thank the board for listening to our concerns regarding the proposed demolition of the Melvin Grossman addition in the original application. Since the last meeting, the applicants have significantly redesigned their proposal to retain the contributing structure. We thank the applicants for listening to these concerns and for adhering to the protocol of protecting contributing structures within the district.

While we advocated for the retention of the Melvin Grossman building, we also expected that its retention would have a significant impact on reducing the massing and scale of the proposed new tower. Unfortunately, we don’t see a noticeable improvement in the compatibility of the new tower in relation to the historic, contributing structures on the site. The reduction in the tower’s mass was taken from the interior courtyard-facing section, leaving the overall envelope of the new tower appearing substantially similar to the original proposal.

The existing Chipperfield tower on the site continues to be a significantly superior massing program in relation to the historic buildings. We also believe the adjacent Setai tower’s size and massing is incompatible with the historic surroundings. In fact, the proposed Setai tower and other towers along the beach helped precipitate a downzoning in the city in the 1990s – commonly known as Save Miami Beach.

However, just because the Setai tower is too big does not mean that a tower that is even longer than the Setai should be approved. Two wrongs don’t make a right… The objective standards for Historic Preservation still need to be adhered to. The mistakes of the past should not become mistakes of the present.

Specifically, we find that the new proposed tower continues to overwhelm the collection of historic structures on the site. Indeed, just a few years ago the zoning only allowed 50 feet maximum height for new construction. The Commission’s zoning change to allow 200′ in this area is conditioned on applicants meeting the stringent requirements of the preservation code. Such a zoning allowance should be used sparingly – if ever used.

Based on section 118-564 of the code, we believe the following issues remain to be addressed (emphasis ours):

3d. The proposed structure, and/or additions to an existing structure are appropriate to and compatible with the environment and adjacent structures, and enhance the appearance of the surrounding properties, or the purposes for which the district was created.

3e. The design and layout of the proposed site plan, as well as all new and existing buildings and public interior spaces shall be reviewed so as to provide an efficient arrangement of land uses. Particular attention shall be given to safety, crime prevention and fire protection, relationship to the surrounding neighborhood, impact on preserving historic character of the neighborhood and district, contiguous and adjacent buildings and lands, pedestrian sight lines and view corridors.

3j. Any proposed new structure shall have an orientation and massing which is sensitive to and compatible with the building site and surrounding area and which creates or maintains important view corridor(s).

To conclude, the new tower is simply too large. We believe that a significant reduction in its overall length and scale needs to occur in order to achieve the strict standards of compatibility that are central to the purpose of historic preservation.

We ask the Historic Preservation Board to A. Deny the application or B. require the applicants to further refine their design, with emphasis on a significant reduction in the overall new tower total size, and a more sensitive and respectful separation between the Cromwell and the new tower. [It should be repeated that a project with full entitlements is already approved by this board, one that includes the adaptive reuse and expansion of the Chipperfield tower. That project is much more in line with the code than what is currently before you.]

Prior MDPL Position [from March 8, 2022]

We are strongly opposed to the proposed demolition of the contributing Melvin Grossman addition of the historic Shore Club hotel. The proposal essentially keeps only the main lobby/facade of the Shore Club, leaving the bulk of floor area for the new condominium residence tower. Removal of such significant historic elements will erase the opportunity for visitors to experience seeing and inhabiting/staying at the historic Shore Club hotel rooms overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (see below red historic building proposed to be demolished)

Overall, there is simply too much demolition being proposed for this property. We remain concerned about Sunny Isles-ification of Miami Beach. Contributing buildings should not be sacrificed to expand new construction.

In view of the foregoing, MDPL opposes this application and asks that it be denied.

NEW APPLICATIONS

4. HPB22-0505, 2100 Collins Avenue — Collins Park Rotunda

Current site

Proposed Structures

View Item Details

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the renovation of the Collins Park Rotunda building including the construction of an attached addition.

Board passed two motions:

Motion 1: Approve certificate of appropriateness.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair
Motion

Nancy Liebman

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed
Seconded
Ray Breslin

Motion 2: Initiate process to classify building as contributing.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair
Motion

Nancy Liebman
Seconded

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin

MDPL position (Click to expand)

We appreciate the need to activate the structure, which was once a thriving part of the community but has remained underutilized for far too long. However, we have concerns about the compatibility of the proposed addition to the sculptural Rotunda. The existing connection to and design of the addition merits further study. As proposed, it does not appear to be compatible with the rotunda sculpture. We strongly suggest studying the original connection design from when the Rotunda was part of the mid-century library (now demolished). That connection had a much more sensitive design, and it could help inform the design of the new addition. As currently proposed, however, we do not believe the addition is compatible.

5. HPB21-0498, 7418 Harding Avenue

Current site

Proposed Structures

View Item Details

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the partial demolition, renovation and restoration of two buildings, the total demolition of one building and the construction of a new detached addition as part of a new hotel development on the site including variances from the minimum hotel unit size and required rear setback.

Continued

Continued to the July 12, 2022 meeting. Applicant will explore alternatives to demolition of the contributing structure as well as look at landscaping enhancements for the proposed courtyard redesign

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair

Nancy Liebman
Motion

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein

Stuart Reed
Seconded

Ray Breslin

MDPL position (Click to expand)

We appreciate the proposal to renovate and restore the existing structures facing Harding Avenue. However, we do not believe that the new proposed addition at the back of the lot is compatible with the remaining structures on the site. In particular, the fenestration of the new structure – entirely glass with no muntons – seems to be in striking contrast to the historic buildings. We recommend further study to ensure the new addition is distinct yet compatible with the structures on site.

6. HPB22-0501, 2701 and 2727 Indian Creek Drive, 233 27th Street and 230 28th Street — Indian Creek Hotel

Current site

Proposed Structures

View Item Details

An application has been filed requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the partial demolition, renovation and restoration of the building located at 233 27th Street including the construction of an attached addition, the partial demolition, renovation, restoration and relocation of the building located at 230 28th Street, the total demolition of an accessory kitchen building, one or more waivers and variances from the minimum hotel unit size and required setbacks.

Board passed two motions:

Motion 1: Approve variances. Applicant withdrew (without prejudice) the variance from the minimum hotel unit size.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair

Nancy Liebman
Motion

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Seconded

Motion 2: Approve the certificate of appropriateness. Applicant will work with staff on the east/ west elevations and additional resiliency measures.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair

Nancy Liebman
Motion

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Seconded

MDPL position (Click to expand)

MDPL Position

MDPL supports the Miami Beach staff recommendations for this project. We appreciate the contextuality of the new addition behind the Art Deco structure. Unlike many new proposals which are mostly glass, this addition has a typology that feels distinct and compatible with the surrounding properties.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

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

View Item Details

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

View Item Details

Failed

Motion 1: Support the height increase.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair

Nancy Liebman
Seconded

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Motion

Approved

Motion 2: Provide no recommendation to the Mayor and the City Commission on the height increase.

Ricardo Lopez Kirk Paskal Nancy Liebman Laura Weinstein Berman Barry Klein Stuart Reed Ray Breslin
Ricardo Lopez, Chair Kirk Paskal, Vice Chair
Motion

Nancy Liebman

Laura Weinstein-Berman Barry Klein
Seconded
Stuart Reed Ray Breslin

MDPL position (Click to expand)

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.

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