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Oasis on the Bay 20-story condos
may rise near 79th Street
A developer is targeting buyers left out of the condo boom by building
in a struggling Miami neighborhood
BY MATTHEW HAGGMAN
Developer Jorge Perez, in a move aimed at bringing waterfront condo
living within reach of more buyers, is planning to build two 20-story
towers in a gritty area on Miami's Biscayne Bay. Prices for the project,
Oasis on the Bay, which is immediately north of Northeast 79th Street at
Biscayne Bay, would range from $200,000 to $300,000, said Perez, who is
chairman and chief executive of The Related Group in Miami and the
region's most prolific high-rise condo developer. ''There is an
overabundance of developers trying to reach that $400,000 to million
dollar market,'' he said. ``We are looking for ways to increase our
universe of buyers, to reach buyers who have been priced out of the
market.'' But Perez may first have to deal with irate Shorecrest
neighborhood residents who oppose high-rise buildings in the area.
Shorecrest, which is part of the larger Upper Eastside area of Miami,
runs from Northeast 78th to 87th streets and from Biscayne Bay to
Biscayne Boulevard. ''If they are going to do 20 stories, we will fight
it tooth and nail,'' said Allyson Warren, president of the Shorecrest
Homeowners Association. ''That kind of height directly next to a
neighborhood with single-family homes is abominable.'' Warren said
low-rise townhomes are better suited for the area.
Perez responded in an e-mail that he
``did not think we would be having opposition to improving this area.'
Miami's Shorecrest neighborhood has low- to mid-rise structures,
including single-family homes, but it remains a disheveled area and one
of the few places in Miami largely bypassed by the current wave of
development that is remaking the city. Among the projects going up in
the area is a mid-rise condominium, The Bank, at the corner of Biscayne
Bay and Northeast 81st Street. Meanwhile, the city plans a new fire
station on Northeast 79th Street.
Oasis on the Bay would occupy several
parcels that largely include derelict buildings like the out-of-business
Mike Gordon's Seafood Restaurant. Last week, Perez paid $12.7 million to
a multiple group of buyers who owned the different parcels comprising
the property, he said. The newly assembled property stretches from
Biscayne Bay to Northeast Bayshore Drive and from Northeast 79th to 80th
streets. It is too early to predict whether the project will get a green
light from city officials. ''It is a depressed area up there,'' said
Miami City Commissioner Johnny L. Winton. ``A good project on the site
would be great. But it has to be the right kind of project that fits in
with the neighborhood.'' Winton, whose district includes the Shorecrest
neighborhood, declined to take a stance, saying instead that he wants
``the neighbors satisfied.''
Under Perez's plan, two 20-story
towers with 430 units would rise on the site that looks across the Bay
towards the island municipality of North Bay Village. A garage would be
partly lined with loft apartments. The waterfront, slated to include a
marina, would be open to the public. A waterfront restaurant is also
planned. ''Public access to the waterfront is an important ingredient,''
said Bob Flanders, co-founder and secretary of the neighborhood group,
Upper Eastside Miami Council, who reacted positively to Perez's plans.
``I am encouraged that Jorge Perez would want to develop in the Upper
REDUCED ROAD ACCESS
But Perez's plan also calls for
cutting off access between Northeast Bayshore Court and 79th Street, a
major thoroughfare. The road instead would be covered over by the condo
project, and cars would exit north onto Northeast 80th Street. Warren,
the homeowners association president, dismissed that idea as a
nonstarter, saying it would create excessive traffic in the residential
neighborhood dotted with single-family homes to the north. ''Northeast
Bayshore Court has to empty out onto Northeast 79th Street,'' she said.
For his part, Perez previously said that he wouldn't start any new
developments, focusing instead on building more than 50 high-rise condos
in the works from downtown Miami and Miami Beach to Florida's west coast
and Las Vegas. Nearly all of those projects cater to high-end buyers. He
said he decided to pursue Oasis on the Bay because he wants more
projects aimed at the middle market, which he considers underserved.
Many condo projects target the wealthy. ''I have been on the lookout for
a product that completes the rest of what we are doing,'' Perez said.
``We are looking, particularly around transit centers, to get an urban
product we can sell and meet middle-class market demand. We are having
difficulty finding prices that make sense.''
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