Miami Beach Committee Tackles Residential Shift and Historic Preservation

In a recent meeting of the Miami Beach Land Use and Sustainability Committee, discussions centered on the transformation of The Clevelander on Ocean Drive into a residential project, the city’s need for more residential housing, and the establishment of an incentivized energy benchmarking program. The committee grappled with balancing the historic preservation of Ocean Drive against the proposed development of luxury residential towers, the potential impact on the area’s iconic views, and the overall community’s character. Furthermore, the committee debated the implementation of an energy benchmarking ordinance to track and improve building efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Clevelander, an iconic nightlife venue, may undergo a significant transformation into a high-end residential development. The proposal outlines the construction of two 12-story towers, sparking a debate over the impact on Ocean Drive’s historic district and the iconic postcard view of the city. Public comments raised concerns about the project’s environmental and infrastructure impacts, as well as the potential influence of the Florida legislature on future developments in Miami Beach. The committee discussed whether residential projects could provide a solution to the issues faced on Ocean Drive and whether the project’s business model would align with the city’s vision for development and entertainment.

The committee also considered the implications of the Live Local Act and its amendments on city development, focusing on the maximum building height within a specified proximity to certain properties. Discussions highlighted differing views on the feasibility of the Act, its requirements, and the city’s willingness to engage in dialogue with developers to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Another topic was the potential impact of entertainment businesses on South Beach. Members exchanged views on which establishments contributed to the area’s problems and discussed potential changes to business models, including a transition to upscale dining experiences. The committee underscored the need for continued engagement with developers and stakeholders to address concerns related to parking, setbacks, and the influence of luxury residential projects on parking availability.

The future of Miami Beach’s residential makeup featured prominently, with discussions on the decline in Resort tax revenues and the full-time resident population. There was a consensus on the need for a robust conversation about the city’s development direction, emphasizing a more resident-centric environment. The committee explored the challenges of preserving certain areas while allowing development in others, the potential for a diverse housing stock, and the impact of public transportation.

The potential implementation of a building energy benchmarking ordinance was a topic of discussion. Members deliberated on whether the program should be voluntary or mandatory for building owners, the costs of acquiring necessary software for benchmarking, and the need for staffing to develop and implement the program. The importance of creating incentives for building owners to participate was highlighted, with suggestions that the city should provide benefits to encourage participation rather than penalties for non-compliance.

The committee acknowledged the economic and environmental advantages of the benchmarking program, considering its alignment with the city’s goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The discussion also considered the competitive advantage of such a program and its potential to distinguish efficient buildings in the real estate market.

Composting initiatives were also on the agenda, with the committee considering the expansion of the program by setting up composting bins at City Hall and potentially introducing residential pickup. There was a suggestion to purchase or rent additional land on the mainland to expand composting capabilities. However, the committee faced the challenge of finding suitable locations, addressing resident concerns, and the sensitivity of the issue due to the hydrological connection to groundwater on the mainland.

Finally, the committee addressed the expiration of land use board orders and the challenges posed by state preemption. They discussed the possibility of implementing restrictions on short-term rentals, with plans to revisit the issue at the next meeting. A tribute was given to City Attorney Nick Ceris for his dedicated public service and integrity, highlighting the committee’s appreciation for his contributions to the city.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Steven Meiner
Environmental Commission Officials:
Alex Fernandez, Tanya Bhatt, Laura Dominguez, David Suarez, Eric Carpenter (Liaison), Jessica Gonzalez (Support Staff)

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