Urbanica scores approval for new hotel in North Beach

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June 15, 2020
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As reported in The Real Deal.

Urbanica Management has the green light to build a new hotel on one of the last vacant oceanfront parcels in Miami Beach.

The Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board on Tuesday unanimously approved Urbanica Management’s plans to construct an 11-story, 209-room hotel with a 104-seat restaurant and a 91-space garage at 6747 Collins Avenue.

The future Urbanica the Beach Hotel is the latest proposal for the property within the North Beach Resort Historic District that has changed hands five times in the past 17 years.

In 2016, the historic preservation board approved a request by the site’s previous owner, China City Construction, to build an 18-story, 42-unit residential tower on the site. China City had purchased the property from developer Don Peebles in 2015 for $38.5 million. The development plans never made it to fruition.

A subsidiary of Urbanica Management, owned by Charlie Porchetto and Diego Colmenero, paid $38 million for the 1-acre property in August 2019, according to property records.

The design for Urbanica the Beach’s contemporary design, created by Miami architect Jennifer McConney-Gayoso, was generally praised by board members. However, three board members lamented that the project didn’t provide public beach access.

“I think that this is a great project, but not having that access is a flaw in this project,” said board member Barry Klein.

Board member Nancy Liebman, a former Miami Beach city commissioner, countered that there’s nothing in city code that requires the developer to provide a public beach accessway. “I think the project is so excellent that it would be a shame not to support it because of this,” Liebman said.

Also voicing support for the project were three residents of the neighboring Sterling Condominium at 6767 Collins Avenue, mainly because it will help block the view of the abandoned and deteriorating Deauville Beach Resort just south of the currently vacant parcel.

“This hotel is a welcome change and a positive move,” said Sterling resident Teresita Lopez. “It will help us increase the value of this area.”

Because the developers aren’t asking for any variances, the project won’t need to be reviewed by any other land use boards, confirmed Debbie Tackett, Miami Beach’s chief of historic preservation.