New designs win Brickell rental tower support after two years
By Paola Iuspa
After two years of neighborhood opposition and stalled plans, a rental tower planned south of the Brickell area landmark Atlantis building won public and official support based on the developer's new design.
Residents of the Atlantis Condominium on Biscayne Bay, best known for its open center and red spiral staircase featured in the opening scenes of Miami Vice, and owners from Bristol Condominium are welcoming a new plan from Coral Way Investments Inc.
After heated debates about the proposed building had continued for hours at previous city commission meetings, Miami officials quickly approved plans last week for Brickell Bay View.
Under the new design, said Tucker Gibbs, attorney representing Atlantis, "the building is thinner and taller. That is exactly what my clients wanted."
The project, 2101-05 Brickell Ave., is to be sandwiched between the 96-unit Atlantis and the 147-unit Bristol.
Since the developer applied for plan approval in December 1999, Brickell-area neighbors have opposed the project, saying Brickell Bay View was too massive and did not fit the character of the neighborhood.
The newly approved plans, designed by Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc., calls for up to 359 rental units in a 36-story tower. The original plans, designed by Wolfberg Alvarez and Partners, called for 359 units in a 26-story tower, according to a city document.
Michael Baumann, a principal with Coral Way Investments, said the new project "is a complete and total turn-around.
"It is different architecturally, aesthetically and internally," he said.
Mr. Gibbs said the case was "an extraordinary event. The city commission and the neighbors had forced a developer to build a better project. The commission forced the developer to address some issues the developer was not aware of and he responded by coming up with a much better project."
Besides asking for a thinner and taller building, residents wanted the garage of the proposed building to be underground, Mr. Gibbs said.
The new design, planned for 4.6 acres, will have three levels below ground for parking 548 cars, recreational space, a lobby with meeting rooms, a rental office, a business center and some retail space, according to the document.
The building is estimated to cost $88 million and generate about $5.4 million in tax revenues, with about $700,000 going to the city, according to the document.
With a major-use special permit in hand, Coral Way Investments will need to go before the city commission again to obtain a building permit to start construction, said Vickie Garcia-Toledo, attorney representing the developer.
Mr. Baumann said he did not know when that would be.
"It is too early," he said. "I don't have a schedule at this time."
After the developer's original plan was approved, residents of the Atlantis condominium association appealed the ruling to the Appellate Division of the Circuit Court. In November 2000, a judge sent the issue back to the city commission to work out the neighbors' concerns.
Keeping the same design but offering a reduced number of units, the developer returned to the commission for approval in April. Commissioners gave the developer and neighbors 30 days to reach an agreement. In June, Coral Way Investments applied for a major use special permit for the new design.