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Jun 17, 2015

Verzasca downsizes Sunny Isles condo design to win approval

TheRealDeal
By Mike Seemuth
Number of floors, unit sizes and the number of parking spaces were all reduced

Artist rendering of redesigned Verzasca condominium proposed at 17550 Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach
Artist rendering of redesigned Verzasca condominium proposed at 17550 Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach

A development group with Russian investors downsized the design of its proposed condominium building in Sunny Isles Beach to win city approval of the project, The Real Deal has learned.

Verzasca Group made changes to an earlier design that would produce “less density and less intensity,” including a reduction in the number of condo units and the elimination of a ground-floor restaurant, Tim Lobanov, managing director of Verzasca, told TRD.

The Sunny Isles Beach city commission voted May 21 to defer action on the original proposal by Verzasca to build a 19-story condominium on the site of a Denny’s restaurant on the west side of Collins Avenue.

City commissioners voted unanimously to give Verzasca time to respond to complaints that its condo project at 17550 Collins Avenue with a ground-floor restaurant would create excessive traffic congestion. About two dozen people spoke for or against the project at the packed city commission meeting.

“From inception, it has been very important for us to be a good neighbor and to address any concern the commissioners and the community might have,” Lobanov said.

City staffers will assess the condo design changes June 23 when Verzasca is scheduled to present its redesigned project to the city’s Design Review Committee. The Sunny Isles City Commission is scheduled to review the redesigned project at a public meeting July 16.

Among other design changes, Verzasca reduced the number of residential levels in the building to 16 from 17, the number of units from 77 to 61, the average unit size from 1,750 square feet to 1,600 square feet and the number of garage parking spaces to 135 from 162.

Lobanov also said ground-floor space would be reserved for a commercial user, perhaps an office, instead of a restaurant as originally planned, and plans to embed a mechanical car lift in the parking garage were eliminated.

“The total volume of the building was reduced by 30 percent,” he said, and its distance from the nearby King David condominium more than doubled to 75 feet from 30 feet.

The Russian investors behind Verzasca Group would still include in the condominium development a mikvah, or a bath that Jewish people use for religious reasons.

Verzasca originally sought city permission to purchase transfers of development rights, or TDRs, that would add 38,000 square feet to the permitted size of the condominium. TDRs essentially amend the city’s zoning by transferring developmental density from one part of Sunny Isles Beach to another.

But the development group will not ask to buy TDRs from the city for its redesigned condo project, Lobanav said.