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MIAMI BEACH, FL-East Coastline Development Limited failed at a public hearing this week to win support for a proposed commercial-intensive, mixed-use project on a highly prized 3.4-acre waterfront site at 50 S. Washington Ave.

The Miami Beach real estate investment and development company, controlled by flamboyant real estate investor Thomas Bernhard Kramer, petitioned the city to amend the land-use regulations on the unplatted piece of property that is widely considered the last large undeveloped piece of land in south Miami Beach.

In its petition, East Coastline sought a rezoning classification to commercial-intensive, mixed-use from low-density, marine-recreation use. Following a public hearing last week, however, the Miami Beach City Commission unanimously rejected the petition in a 7-0 vote.

In its application, the Kramer affiliate proposed the development of an eight-story residential tower, a three-story townhouse structure and a five-story parking garage on a site that abuts the city-owned South Pointe Park.

Last month, the commission-appointed members of the Miami Beach Planning Board unanimously rejected the proposal as inconsistent with the city’s master land-use plan. They also denied a request to change the floor area ratio to 2.50 for commercial-intensive mixed-use from the current FAR of 0.25 for marine-recreation use.

There were fears expressed that East Coastline might consider a transfer of its property rights on the Alaska Parcel in a bid to create an even larger development.

“By changing the zoning category…the potential for transfer of development rights would create a development much greater than what is allowed in the underlying regulations for the existing land-use designation,” says City Manager Jorge M. Gonzalez in a memo distributed to city commissioners.

The commission’s decision may be a prelude to litigation, considering the actions of Kramer and his affiliates in the past.

Although preferring not to speculate whether he anticipates litigation in response to the commission’s decision, Deputy City Attorney Robert Dixon tells GlobeSt.com the city has been embroiled in a case with Kramer and his affiliates for more than three years. The plaintiffs are challenging sweeping ordinances the commission adopted that restrict floor area ratios.

In its claim, Dixon says, the Kramer affiliates argue the city committed acts of bad faith by adopting certain land-use charter amendments. A local trial court judge has since ruled in favor of the city on that issue, however.

In addition, Dixon says, the Kramer affiliates filed an action for claims under the Bert J. Harris Jr. Act, the state legislation designed to protect property owners in cases where government regulations unfairly devalue private property.

That remaining part of the current litigation, which includes claims made by the Kramer affiliates on behalf of the Alaska Parcel, is awaiting further court hearings.

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