South Beach Tower Gets a Shrink

Plus: Droning about real estate; and a Palm Beach New Year's tease

Jesta Group proposal for 18-story tower in Miami Beach

The mayor of Miami Beach called it the “worst idea ever.” But this week, it got upgraded —to second worst?

Canadian developer Jesta Group said it could build a 30-story residential building along South Beach’s iconic Ocean Drive, a structure that would tower over everything else on the low-rise Art Deco strip.

Local grumbling can’t stop a tall-tower plan there. Because it’s permissible under a new state law designed to incentivize construction of affordable housing.

Florida’s Live Local Act, in effect since July 1, allows developers to bypass certain zoning restrictions on height and density — if they designate 40% of their project’s units as “affordable.” Jesta did that, like many other builders across a state that’s juggling an affordable housing shortage, and an ever-strong interest by developers to build as high and tight as they can.

Jesta’s South Beach proposal, on the site of the Clevelander Hotel, drew a bit of acrimony from local officials, and plenty of adjectives (See: “horrible, horrific, terrible, tragic idea.").

So now, the building will be 40% shorter. The developer submitted its official plan to Miami Beach this week, calling for an 18-story tower —still taller than its neighbors — with 137 residential units.

Fifty-five of those would be designated as affordable, and limited to renters who earn up to 120% of Miami’s area median income, or $89,640 in today’s dollars.

“We have met with community stakeholders and listened to their comments and concerns,” Alexander Tachmes, the Miami lawyer representing Jesta’s project, said in an e-mail. The firm also conducted a ”height context analysis” and concluded that, while it’s entitled to build up to 30-stories by the new law, 18- stories makes more sense for the neighborhood.

“The Act provides that qualifying projects like ours cannot be subject to the approval of zoning boards or city councils at public hearings,” Tachmes said.

“However, we are voluntarily making significant outreach. We are confident the project will receive broad support after these outreach discussions.”

It doesn’t seem like the matter is closed though. Miami Beach’s mayor, Dan Gelber, told the Miami Herald: “The only idea worse than this one was the first version.”

The new Live Local Act is clearly spurring a bit of give and take between Florida’s municipalities and developers as they navigate what is now permissible— and what can be pushed back on.

The city of Doral, home to Donald Trump’s Blue Monster golf course, placed a six-month moratorium on all new proposals invoking the Live Local Act, but came to a compromise with one developer this month. The city council approved a plan that includes three 8-story towers by the Apollo Companies, which had initially sought to build them as high as 12 stories.

Palm Beach New Year’s Tease

Billboard in Times Square (Photo: Business Development Board, Palm Beach Co.)

New Year’s Eve revelers in Manhattan’s Times Square will have visions of Florida as they ring in 2024.

Palm Beach County’s Business Development Board has reserved billboard space on three buildings in the vicinity of the December 31st ball drop, where over one million people stand for hours waiting for the clock to count down to midnight.

The billboards — similar to the Times Square ad campaign the county agency launched in August — promote Palm Beach as “Wall Street South,” a place to make millions, amidst sandy beaches, lush greenery and cream-colored office buildings.

(Photo: Business Development Board, Palm Beach County)

Droning on About Luxury Real Estate

Brokers gather on a yacht for a drone show (Photo: Landau Properties)

Who says it’s bad form to drone about real estate?

A condo sales launch party for Indian Creek Residences & Yacht Club took the marketing to the sky, with a light-up drone show extolling the highlights of the nine-condo development in Miami’s Bay Harbor Islands.

Brokers gathered on a yacht docked on Indian Creek Lake to watch a celestial PowerPoint bright enough for even the near-sighted to see.

Condo prices at the eight-story waterfront project by Landau Properties start at $5.6 million for a half-floor home, with penthouse residences starting at $11 million.

Amenities include: a private yacht club and marina exclusive to unit owners; six boat slips, five of which will be for sale, the other for community use.

Have you heard? Some headlines from the week:

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