Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries and Vlad Doronin’s OKO Group’s proposed 250-foot tall building in the Faena District received a green light to push ahead with their project. This comes after objections raised by residents of the adjoining Faena House primarily. The Aman Tower will be located between the former Versailles Hotel and Faena House on Collins Avenue, thus the opposing chorus from the Faena District. On Tuesday, 25 August, the Miami Beach Planning Board voted in favor of changing the regulations which limit current constructions to 203 feet. The developers will therefore now be able to move the Miami Beach City Commission for the legislature that will give the final nod to the building.
The Miami Beach Planning Board gave its approval after hearing arguments from both parties for over three hours. The vote went 5 to 2 in favor of the legal revisions. This means that the developers could get their final approvals this month and begin groundbreaking. 3425 Collins LLC had previously presented its case before the Miami Beach Planning Board in July. The developer of the Aman Tower wanted the Faena District Overlay to be modified to allow the 47-foot height increase.
The new regulations will enable the new high-rise to surpass Faena House, already at the regulated height of 203 feet. The strongest voices raised against Aman Tower were therefore from these precise quarters. Billionaire homeowners entered a tug-of-war with billionaire promoters. A total of 26 owners objected to the height increase. Their reasons were listed in writing, in a letter addressed to the Miami Beach Planning Board.
Among these, residents of Faena House claim a higher tower than theirs would counter guarantees received when their property was developed in 2015. “A massive, 250-foot structure was never contemplated nor expected and not what we were advised when we purchased our units.” The letter adds that the proposed taller construction “will obliterate our views to the beach and ocean, cast extensive shade and darkness, and cause other multiple deleterious impacts to our units.” For the wealthy homeowners, their perch over the waterfront is defined by exclusivity. They are, after all, part a very select club, who demand the highest standards when it comes to their lifestyle. Legal representatives of 3425 Collins LLC say, for their part, that the building will be erected further towards the back. Their counter-argument is that Faena House will then be the one to cast shade on Aman Tower.
Furthermore, one of the contesting residents, Thomas Stern, suggested there was a conflict of interest in the proposal. The reason being that Blavatnik was one of the financiers who partnered with Alan Faena for the development of the Faena District. He said: “what’s being done here and how it’s being done are egregious.” Among other objectors to the project are the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, former U.S. Ambassador Paul Cejas and hedge-fund experts Jamie Dinan and Ken Griffin. The latter had made the acquisition of his Faena House penthouse for a whopping $60 million in 2015.
The other protesters are concerned the area already has its fair share of high-rises. Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is a past Miami Beach commissioner, She reportedly said that the run-down Versailles Hotel and Condominium could have been given a fresh start instead. The melancholy building was once a kingpin of the art-deco marvels of Miami Beach. Gonzalez was among the voices heard by the Miami Beach Planning Board before it agreed to the legal amendments requested by 3425 Collins LLC.