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Jesta Group Unveils Ambitious Plans for 18-Story Tower at Iconic Miami Beach Location

Jesta Group, a Montreal-based company, initially unveiled its intention to revamp the hotels located at 1020 and 1001 Ocean Drive in Miami Beach in September. At that time, Jesta expressed that, in accordance with the state’s Live Local Act, their proposed development could reach a towering height of 30 stories. This announcement immediately drew criticism from local Miami Beach politicians and elected officials, who argued that a 30-story structure would be incongruous with the historic Ocean Drive and might establish an unwelcome precedent for redeveloping heritage buildings.

Due to Florida Senate Bill 102’s authority to override local zoning regulations concerning building height and density, the developer’s application “is set for internal staff evaluation and is not subject to public hearings,” as outlined by Jesta’s legal representative, Alexander Tachmes of Shutts & Bowen, in the site plan application submitted to the city on Monday.

Under the leadership of Senior Managing Director Anthony O’Brien, Jesta intends to construct a 137-unit residential tower, with 55 of these units dedicated to affordable housing, as indicated in Tachmes’ correspondence. The affordable units will be offered for rent, while the remaining 82 units will be marketed for sale as condominiums. The ground floor of this proposed 18-story tower, standing at 200 feet, is designated for lease to a high-end restaurant.

Rent prices for the affordable housing component will be capped at 30 percent of 120 percent of the local area median income. In Miami-Dade County, where the area median income (AMI) is $74,700, this means that current rents cannot surpass $2,241 per month. These affordable rent levels are expected to be maintained for a minimum of 30 years.

Miami-based Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design has been chosen to design the project.

Jesta’s plan involves demolishing the five-story Clevelander annex building constructed in 2009. The developer intends to establish a pedestrian bridge over Ocean Court to connect the project while preserving the historical sections of the Clevelander and Essex buildings. The new tower will be situated at the rear of the Clevelander building, adjacent to the alley, as per the application.

Jesta acquired these properties in 2018 for a sum of $28.5 million. The Clevelander, originally built in 1938 and designed by Albert Anis, features 60 hotel rooms, a swimming pool, patio areas, a sundeck, a rooftop terrace, a sports bar, and a restaurant. Collectively, with the 70-key Essex, these properties encompass nearly an acre of land.

On the following day, acting upon the commission’s directive, the Miami Beach Planning Board voted to initiate the creation of a review process for Live Local Act projects.

Board member Tanya Katzoff Bhatt, who referred to the Live Local Act as a “God awful law,” advocated for a temporary suspension on new projects falling under its purview. She emphasized that the law does not mandate cities to inform residents about new project applications, to which she reacted strongly, expressing her incredulity.

Read related news here: Examining Florida’s Affordable Housing Law through the Miami Beach Project

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