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Kobi Karp in Brzoninglaw

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Developer Pedro Martin has received the blessing of the Miami Beach Design Review Board to build a 200-foot tall high-rise that will include plenty of trees outside, and inside, the building.

The 20-story, 64-unit condominium will replace the 10-story Howard Johnson Dezerland Hotel at 8701 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus and built in 1951, the Dezerland was originally known as Biltmore Terrace. In December 2013, Martin bought the property from Sunny Isles developer Michael Dezer for $65 million.

Daniel Ciraldo, historic preservation officer for the Miami Design Preservation League, said the developer originally promised to restore the old Biltmore, not demolish it. “Then they got a height increase of 200 feet from 60 feet [from the City of Miami Beach],” he said. “They decided, instead of restoring the hotel, they would make a luxury condo.” Martin started demolishing the old hotel in January, an action Ciraldo said he and other preservationists protested.

Miami Beach did, however, get $10 million from Martin’s Terra Group —$6.5 million of which has been earmarked for the improvement of North Shore Open Space Park, located just south of 8701 Collins Avenue. The developer also promised to build 10-foot-wide beach access paths on the north and south end of the future high-rise.

The 8701 Collins Avenue project is being designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design and WEST 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture. The tower will feature an underground parking garage, a gym/spa and a rooftop terrace, according to a report by Planning Director Thomas Mooney. The future condo will also be surrounded by a forest of 200 trees that will also infiltrate the ground floor lobby, said Daniel Vasini of New York-based WEST 8.

Aside from Ciraldo, most who spoke during the Miami Beach Design Review Board meeting were in favor of the 8701 Collins Avenue project, including Mickey Miñagorri, principal of the Artco Group, an interior design and fixture manufacturing company, who lives in Normandy Isle. Miñagorri called the area where the Howard Johnson stands an “ugly hole.” He’s hopeful that the new condo will improve that part of North Beach.

“For the first time, you have a developer who is willing to put his money where his mouth is….,” Miñagorri said. “I would like to [roll] out a red carpet and bring out some champagne.”

– Erik Bojnansky