Miami Beach commissioners soon will determine whether billionaire real estate developer Steve Ross’ plan to redevelop the historic Deauville Beach Resort can head to voters in November.
Ross, founder and chairman of New York-based Related Companies, is proposing a two-tower development of up to 375 feet tall with a 175-room Equinox hotel and 150 luxury condos at 6701 Collins Avenue.
Model images of the proposed project were unveiled at Thursday’s Miami Beach Land Use and Sustainability Committee meeting.
The existing 540-key Deauville, built in 1957 and designed by architect Melvin Grossman, is being demolished.
On Thursday, the land use board, composed of city commissioners, advanced the proposed zoning amendment to the commission.
The commission will vote later in July on placing the item on the November ballot in the form of a referendum.
Akerman attorney Neisen Kasdin, a former Miami Beach mayor, is representing the developer.
Related would build a hotel and beach club in one building and in the other, large luxury condos.
The two towers would be separated by landscaping, according to the developer’s presentation Thursday.
Whether Ross, who owns Related and the Miami Dolphins,
can make it all happen in time depends on everything going according to his plan — which it has so far.
But voters will have to support a major increase in floor area ratio, or FAR, that would allow for a larger development.
Ross, who tapped starchitect Frank Gehry to design the proposed project, made an appearance at Thursday’s meeting.
Gehry is expected to speak at the commission meeting later this month.
Ross referred to the success of the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at the Surf Club in Surfside,
where a unit resold for a record $5,775 per square foot earlier this year.
“What the Four Seasons has done for Surfside… Being a former Miami Beach resident, I gotta shake my head,” Ross said, implying a missed opportunity.
One other Equinox-branded hotel exists at Hudson Yards, the Related Cos.-developed mega project in New York City.
Related also owns a stake in Equinox.
Related is in contract to buy the Deauville property from the Meruelo family,
which has had an antagonistic relationship with the city.
The Meruelos allowed the iconic resort in North Beach to fall into disrepair to the point where it was declared an unsafe structure.
Daniel Ciraldo, executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League, spoke out in favor of restoring the property.
Commissioners shot him down, citing fears of being held in contempt by the judge who pushed the demolition forward.
They urged him instead to work with Ross to incorporate historic features into the new project.
(That judge, Michael Hanzman, is the same judge overseeing the Surfside collapse litigation.)
Related/Ross’ agreement with the Meruelos is contingent on Related securing the zoning changes.
In a previous meeting, a commissioner said the Meruelos were rumored to be asking $500 million for the 3.8-acre property.
Mayor Dan Gelber, who first introduced the proposal at a commission meeting last month, joined the board on the dais at Thursday’s meeting.
The proposed legislation requires that Ross is the developer and the architect is Gehry.
It would likely benefit the property owner to the north and south with an increase in FAR, though not nearly as high as the proposed increase to 4.5 FAR for the Deauville.
Attorneys Michael Larkin and Paul Savage, representing the owners of the Sherry Frontenac to the south and Urbanica developers Diego Colmenero and Charlie Porchetto to the north, are seeking equal treatment for their clients.
“We took the first risk here. We bought the property. Suddenly this new developer comes here and gets different FAR and I would like to understand why,” Porchetto said during Thursday’s meeting.
The commissioners/land use committee board members countered that Ross would be taking on the biggest risk.
Larkin, with Bercow Radell Fernandez, called it “a purchase and sale agreement masquerading as a zoning regulation.”
“It’s not fair that everybody gets the exact same thing in this case,” Commissioner David Richardson said.