Bal Harbour restricts building heights, but adds planned development category to allow larger projects
By Sherri C. Ranta
New zoning ordinances in the Village of Bal Harbour will now regulate redevelopment of oceanfront sites and restrict the height of future buildings to less than 300 feet along the shore.
The regulations, which include a new zoning classification called planned development district, are to ensure the town does not become home to ultra high-rise buildings, said Daniel B. Nieda, city building official. Planned development districts will allow taller buildings for projects on 5 acres or more and with required street frontage.
Mr. Nieda said the city wants to give developers the right to the most reasonable, best use of their land and at the same time provide protection for surrounding properties.
"We want to provide guidelines that will promote quality of life," said Mr. Nieda, a licensed architect.
The village's council unanimously approved the changes to the 1974 zoning ordinances June 18 after postponing the vote for public comment after protests from residents. The city's original condominium buildings, built in the '50s, '60s and '70s, are aging and targets for redevelopment.
The 30-year-old Kenilworth House, an eight-story oceanfront residential cooperative at 10225 Collins Ave., is scheduled to be razed to make way for Bellini on the Ocean, an 81-unit, 24-story boutique condominium. Units are to be priced from about $1 million to $8.5 million.
Developer Martin Z. Margulies paid $27 million for the 2.7-acre Kenilworth site across the street from Bal Harbour Shops. Mr. Margulies made an offer to purchase the adjacent Carlton Terrace condominium, built in 1956, but was turned down by the board. The extra property could have made the Bellini project qualify as a planned development district.
Mr. Nieda said changes to the zoning code clarify regulations for the city's oceanfront districts. Highlights include:
building height to about 275 feet or about 25 stories. Under the old code developers
could theoretically build a 319-foot building or about 29 stories.
side setbacks to 50 feet, front setbacks to 100 feet, and maintaining the construction
line to 400 feet seaward from the front setback.
the current floor-area ratio regulations - permitted buildable square footage
- but excluding certain elements from the ratio count such as stairs, service
elevators, vertical mechanical spaces, trash shoots and balconies.
development to 55 units per acre.
Creation of the new planned development district, Mr. Nieda said, maintains most of the requirements of the existing oceanfront district, including those listed, but allows developers working on land with a 350-foot minimum street frontage and 5 or more acres to construct buildings as tall as 297 feet.
All plans must be approved by the City Council.
"If you have a parcel of land that is valuable and large," Mr. Nieda said, "it deserves to be looked at in a special manner because of the impact it will have on the village."
A property that could qualify for the new planned development classification is Harbour House Towers, a 10-acre site with two rental towers on 800 feet of oceanfront owned by the Charles E. Smith High Rise Division of Archstone Smith Real Estate Investment Trust.
"We're presently looking at a complete repositioning of the property," said Steve Sorensen, director of development for Florida.
The trust is looking to keep the South Tower as a rental property, he said. Workers are renovating it with completion expected in first quarter 2003. Plans for the North Tower, he said, could include a complete renovation or demolition and new construction at the site.
The new Planned Development District, Mr. Sorensen said, gives developers of large properties special consideration and more flexibility. The new changes also clarify height restrictions.
"Bal Harbour doesn't want to become another Sunny Isles Beach," he said.
City officials said new development at Harbour House Towers, now with 804 units, will have to conform to the city's density regulations of 55 units per acre.
The Majestic condo On Collins Avenue, finished three years ago, is seen as launching Bal Harbour's redevelopment era, which is set to continue with construction of the 24-story Bellini on the Ocean. Demolition of the Kenilworth House for Bellini is expected to begin by late summer under supervision of Miller & Solomon, general contractor, said Shannon Selby, project manager.
Completion of Bellini on the Ocean is expected by spring 2004. A sales office, managed by Cervera Real Estate opened this month in the Kenilworth House.
The demolition will take about six weeks, Ms. Selby said, and will include asbestos removal and removal of debris. Plans for Bellini on the Ocean are scheduled for review by the city's architectural review board on July 3, officials said.
While Ms. Selby had no comment on Mr. Margulies' offer to purchase the adjacent condominium, Carlton Terrace, she did say "one project is not contingent on the other."
Carlton Terrace resident and board member Annette Teisch called Mr. Margulies offer to buy the building "ludicrous" and declined to disclose the figures.
"It would have tied the building up for two years. The price was ludicrous," she said.
A resident for 16 years, Ms. Teisch said she is disturbed about high-rise development near the beach, whether the location is Bal Harbour, Miami Beach or Sunny Isles.
"We're destroying the natural beauty of the state."
Details: Bellini Sales Center: (305) 861-8711; Village of Bal Harbour: (305) 865-7525.