December 2, 2023

Noticias Para Ciudadanos Modernos

City team calls Edgewater tower ‘totally in the wrong place’

Written by on November 14, 2023


City team calls Edgewater tower ‘totally in the wrong place’

A developer planning a 55-story multi-family residential tower in Edgewater met opposition from neighboring condo owners and the city’s Urban Development Review Board.

After a very vocal assessment of the proposed tower, board member Robert Behar said he was ready to move to deny the project.

Instead, the developer’s team requested a voluntary withdraw of the project with the intention of coming back before the board.

More than a dozen residents spoke to the board and submitted online comments opposing the proposed tower for mass and lack of setbacks, along with potential impact on views from current residential buildings.

Board members were also critical of the mass proposed for such a small property, and complained of an incomplete presentation and lack of renderings showing how the new tower would interact with existing adjacent buildings.

Mr. Behar more than once firmly stated his position, noting, “Beautiful building, totally in the wrong place.”

The owner-developer is listed as 419 NE 19 Street Owner LLC, with plans to construct the 55-story tower on a triangular site at 419 NE 19th St.

The tower is designed for 463 dwellings, with on-site and off-site parking and a wide mix of amenity spaces to support the future residents.

Steven J. Wernick, an attorney for the developer, said the property occupies a single platted lot in the Edgewater neighborhood and is currently holds a 13 unit multi-family residential building that would be demolished.

Mr. Wernick wrote to the city, “The property will be unified with the abutting property to the north and west located at 2000 N Bayshore Drive (Parcel A) through a Covenant in Lieu of Unity of Title. Parcel A is improved with three existing mixed-use buildings with ground floor commercial retail and 435 multi-family residential dwelling units, and a standalone parking garage providing 696 parking spaces, known as the Cite’ on the Bay Condominium, completed in or around 2004.”

He said to the south of the property is the Quantum Bay Condominium, and to the east is Margaret Pace Park.

Mr. Wernick said the units range from studio units at 403 square feet, to 4-bedroom units at 2,322 square feet.

He wrote, “The project is well-amenitized with three stories of amenities, including a rooftop pool and sky lounge. The project also takes advantage of its glazing and wrap around balconies, with unmatched views in multiple directions.”

The project, with a total floor area of 553,673 square feet, also provides for 172 parking spaces in an enclosed garage, to be screened with an aluminum screen, with an additional three on-street spaces. The remaining required parking will be provided by an off-site parking agreement.

The project was designed by Fogarty Finger Architecture & Interiors.

The developer is requesting zoning waivers to allow:

■Substitution of one commercial loading berth for two residential berths.

■A 10% reduction in the minimum required setback on a secondary frontage.

■A 10% reduction in the second layer, from 15 feet to 13 feet 6 inches, due to the difficulty created by the irregularly shaped lot resulting in the varying lot depths.

■A 10% reduction in the minimum required drive aisle width, allowing 20 feet 9 inches where 23 feet is required.

■A 10% reduction in the minimum required length of a parking stall, from 18 feet to 17.

■A 30% reduction in required parking spaces.

■Above ground parking to extend into the second layer beyond 50% of the length of the frontage.

Attorney Joseph A. Ruiz, also representing the developer, told the review board the site has a small footprint and a shape like the blade of an Exacto knife.

Mr. Behar dove right in with criticism of the proposed tower.

“I will start by saying I like the architecture of the building, but I will tell you, I don’t see how this could be done,” he said.

“How could you possibly take a glass building to the property line … fire separation doesn’t allow you to do that. That’s not doable. …I really don’t see this as viable … I don’t see this happening. You’re not presenting the whole package to us.”

Mr. Behar was adamant, “I am very very very uncomfortable about moving forward.”

Board member Anthony Tzamtzis was critical of the mass of the podium or parking levels.

He said, “When one looks at this nine-story base, it’s monolithic, a wall. It’s oppressive to have this base.”

Board member Dean Lewis aid the base would be blocking the views of all the residents living in an adjacent building – “it’s a very tough sell.”

Mr. Tzamtzis said, “I object to the design of this base, in this manner, that totally kills the urban environment … it’s very monotonous and very solid. It’s almost like a wall.”

Mr. Behar jumped in, “It is a wall.”

Board member Ligia Ines Labrada said, “In a vacuum the project may be successful, particularly the top floors where the building meets the sky … (but) there’s not a single drawing in the package that shows the relation to the adjacent buildings … it seems like it’s been completely disregarded … in that sense, the scale to me without seeing that side by side (makes it) very hard to even comment.”

She also agreed the podium is oppressive and out of scale for the area.

Mr. Ruiz said the developer’s team appreciated the feedback about the base and the podium. “That’s something we can explore,” he said.

Mr. Behar concluded, “This is not the site for this building. It’s really not, and you’re asking for so much, it’s really not the site for this building.”

Mr. Lewis said, “There are other sites that have come before us with similar constraints in size and dimension that are unrealistic, and frankly none of them made it out of the ground either.”

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