Vizcaya officials worry that condos will overcrowd landmark
By Eric Kalis
Board members and staff at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are worried that Miami commissioners' approval of a high-rise condominium complex at Mercy Hospital could lead to further development encroaching on the landmark.
Vizcaya Executive Director Joel Hoffman said Tuesday that he is trying to schedule a board meeting immediately to plan a response to the city's 3-2 vote last week to accept a zoning change on a 6.7-acre bayside parcel that would allow developers Ocean Land Investments and The Related Group to build 300 luxury condos. Commissioners must approve the zoning change a second time and award a major use special permit next month for construction to begin.
Having three structures of 30 or more floors within 1,600 feet of the historic museum might embolden other developers to build nearby, Mr. Hoffman said.
"We have two concerns," Mr. Hoffman said. "One is that the project will significantly impact the sense of a historic setting at Vizcaya. We are also concerned this could open the push for additional development even closer to us."
Vizcaya is designated as a national historic landmark. Mr. Hoffman contends the Mercy Hospital development will have "tremendous negative impact on Vizcaya's view shed," which is protected by federal law, he said Friday in an e-mail to board members.
The museum board will explore its legal options when it meets next but will probably get involved in the project planning process only "from an advocacy standpoint," Mr. Hoffman said. "We are still collecting the facts."
Vizcaya staffers were prompted to explore the project's ramifications on the museum after trustee Max Blumberg voiced his objections to city commissioners last week. He said the project would damage Vizcaya's beauty and integrity and undermine its capacity to earn an income through admissions and rentals.
Mr. Blumberg was out of the country and unavailable for comment Tuesday. He said in an e-mail to Mr. Hoffman that the board should address the magnitude of the condo project when its developers ask the city for a major use special permit.
Mr. Hoffman said he plans to set up meetings with the development team and city officials before the major use special permit application is brought to the commission.