Developers to go to city with sixth version of project plans
By Susan Stabley
Developers hope the sixth version of plans for the Kubik at Morningside project will muster approval from Miami city commissioners at a planning and zoning hearing today (6/10).
A request for a major-use special permit has been postponed several times to allow opponents to voice concerns. The mixed-use project - targeted for a 3.72-acre triangular patch between Northeast 56th and 58th streets along Biscayne Boulevard - is one of a handful in the works before city officials and area residents pushed for a building moratorium and new height regulations for the Upper Eastside.
More plan changes have been made after meetings with five neighbors and an attorney to include "90%"of what opponents have requested, said architect and developer Camilo Alvarado Boshell of LAB Group of Bogota, Colombia.
The project would rise 130 feet, or 12 stories, and include 19-foot-high penthouses - called airhouses - with private gardens on the rooftop set back and invisible from the ground, Mr. Alvarado Boshell said. The version that will be presented at a 3 p.m. public hearing at City Hall has 293 units.
Prices would start at about $200,000 for apartments and about $700,000 for penthouses, he said. The project is expected to generate about $135 million in sales.
The landmark Andiamo! Brick Oven Pizza restaurant is the focal point of the design, with elements echoed from one structure to the other.
Townhouses and commercial studios line most of the project's first three floors. Some retail space will be available in front of the pizzeria and along Biscayne Boulevard and Fourth Court, he said. The developers will build 482 parking spaces - 100 more than is required, he said.
Under city code, the structure could be as tall as 244 feet, Mr. Alvarado Boshell said, and contain 457,000 square feet. Plans call for 347,000 square feet.
Some opponents want the building to be shorter still, Mr. Alvarado Boshell said. "I can't reduce it any more," he said Monday. "We can't lose any more money."
Developers said they need the additional density to make a profit. With cost overruns and delays, the price per square foot has increased, Mr. Alvarado Boshell told the city commission at an April 22 hearing. Prices that might have been $300 to $310 per square foot are up to $350, an amount the developers said they cannon exceed if they want to be competitive. The project includes units along Biscayne Boulevard but not the waterfront.
The developers have invested about $2 million, he said Monday.
The project is a joint design effort of LAB Group and Oppenheim Architecture + Design of Miami and a partnership that includes Kubik LLC, Biscayne Premier Investment Inc. and Mark's Classics Corp., owned by local restaurateur Mark Soyka.
The project is the second in Miami for the Colombian development and design group. It has finished the $16 million, 60-plus-unit Coral Sea View at 1401 SW 22nd St.
Kubik would connect with nearby Soyka's Restaurant Cafe & Bar, at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast Fourth Court, tying into the Morningside neighborhood and the Design District.
LAB Group began assembling the land more than 18 months ago at a cost of about $10 million, developers have said. Since then, Kubik's developers have met with area residents and businesses, revising the project several times. Two scale models have been crafted and displayed for those who want details on the project, he said.
Attorney Andrew Dickman, who represents opponents, could not be reached this week but has said the project's size is a concern.
"Our concern since the beginning is that the project is too big, too tall and out of scale with the village-like neighborhood," Mr. Dickman said in April. "Our main concern is how high it is."
At one point, developers gave city commissioners two versions of the project to consider. Now, developers have opted for a design that includes an adjacent 13,000-square-foot parcel under contract for $700,000, Mr. Alvarado Boshell said.
The city's planning and zoning department recommended approval of both versions with the condition that developers cannot take advantage of developmental bonuses that would allow for a bigger project.
Bob Flanders, vice president and co-founder of the Upper Eastside Miami Council and a Palm Bay resident since 1981, said he supports the project. "These people clearly applied for their permits to build long before the law was changed," he said Monday.
"The building could have been 23 stories high. The developers didn't have to have 50 meetings with the residents, they didn't have to change the project about a half-dozen times, and they didn't have to add in extra parking spaces," Mr. Flanders said. "These people have bent over backward to accommodate the neighborhood. ... If all developers were like this, what a magical world it would be."