MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The entrance to chic South Beach from the MacArthur Causeway is less than enchanting.
"Coming out of the beach, it's not the best view coming out to your left," said resident Billy Glavin.
That might soon change.
Developer Crescent Heights, which owns the land just north of the MacArthur Causeway, is considering designs from three architects to transform the area from an eyesore to an appealing mixed-use space.
"This is a gift for Miami Beach," said project manager Gabrielle Redfern.
Condemned South Shore Hospital, the 7-11 convenience store, and a parking garage off 7th Street and West Avenue will all be demolished.
Crescent Heights has teamed with Paragon Outlets, which has in its portfolio an array of retail spaces nationwide. Any design must include 450,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of rental living, and a public park, according to Redfern.
Plans also include a path for pedestrians and bicyclists from the Miami Beach Marina to the development.
One architecture firm, Benoy + Add, Inc., will include a gleaming amphitheater and boasts organic forms in its plans.
Designs from Gensler, a firm with 41 locations nationwide, are more angular.
Plans by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill show series of sloping walkways throughout the design.
All designs include an elevated park with retail space beneath. Redfern said the residential building will likely not be higher than the neighboring Bentley Bay condominium.
Retail spaces will be filled with high-end outlet stores, Redfern said.
"It's not just one dominant retailer, it's going to be several, in fact, hundreds of small retailers to attract a broad spectrum of shoppers," Redfern said.
Many South Beach residents are excited to see a transformation.
"It'll make the property values go up and I'd feel safer if something else was here when I come back from the park and it's after dark," said resident Toawanna Murray.
"That's what we need here. It's wonderful," said resident Liz Huget.
Not all neighbors are as quick to support the tentative plans.
Stephen Mandy, president of the South of Fifth Neighborhood Association, said the association wants to study the project before coming to a consensus. But, speaking on his own as a resident, Mandy said he has concerns.
"Regardless of which architectural plan is the final form, the concerns of many of the neighbors of the project are focused on the impact factors such as traffic congestion, crowds, noise, and quality of life for those in proximity," he wrote in an email to Local 10.
Redfern said one solution is an expanded northbound Alton Road flyover with an extra lane.
The Crescent Heights project will need approval from the Miami Beach City Commission.
According to the City of Miami Beach, there have not been any approvals and nothing has yet been submitted for review. The project will most likely need both Planning Board and Design Review Board approvals, as well as public input, according to a city spokesperson.
The process before breaking ground could take more than a year.
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