Sunset Harbour is Miami Beach’s next hot ‘hood

Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour is saying goodbye to neighborhood establishments like Mark’s Quality Cleaners and Riverside Gordon Funeral Home as it prepares to welcome a shiny new condo tower, a “starchitect”-designed parking garage and new restaurants, shops and grocery stores.

It’s part of a neighborhood makeover that business owners hope will turn the area into South Beach’s newest live-eat-play destination.

“In the next five years, you’ll probably see a nice enclave of restaurants and retail, more like what you see on Lincoln Road,” said Alan Waserstein, who owns Miami Lakes-based. LeaseFlorida. Earlier this month, Waserstein sold a plot of land on 20th Street to a condo developer for $4.3 million, doubling his investment from last year.

Sunset Harbour — bordered by Alton Road, Dade Boulevard, 20th Street and Biscayne Bay — is one of the few sections of South Beach zoned as an industrial district, a designation that has kept it from becoming a big player in retail, restaurants and entertainment. The Venetian Causeway leads drivers directly into the bayfront neighborhood, which sits on the northwest corner of South Beach, but most cars pass right through to the more lively Alton or Lincoln roads.

That’s likely to change, as investors and small business owners have aggressively bought up old buildings and land to repurpose the neighborhood as a shopping and dining hub. The city of Miami Beach is getting in on the action as well, launching a new high-end parking garage and planning to move its property management division across the street.

The area, mostly known for its yacht-shaped Publix and a 60-year-old neighborhood dry cleaner’s, has attracted tens of millions of dollars in new investment in the past year, with more on the way.

Ellen Friedman, who owns Mark’s Quality Cleaners with her husband, sold the building on 20th Street to a condo developer earlier this month. The company will relocate its operations in January, while the developer — the same entity that bought Waserstein’s 20th Street land — erects a new mixed-use condo tower, she said.

“They’re putting in an extraordinary complex,” Friedman said. “It’s going to be retail on the bottom and very posh condos on the top.” She added the project could be completed within two years, when Mark’s would return to the location as a retail tenant.

The developer, listed as Boca Raton-based Palau Sunset Harbor, has not officially filed plans with the city, and could not be reached for comment.

The city of Miami Beach also sees Sunset Harbour as a neighborhood ripe for development. The city is building a flashy parking garage with about 450 spaces on Purdy Avenue and commissioned star-architectural firm Arquitectonica to design it. The high-end garage is slated to have 30,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

“More parking will help bring interest from the private sector to help redevelopment of the area,” said Assistant City Manager Jorge Gomez. “Also, the commercial component of the parking garage will help draw interest to the area.”

To help ease the flow of traffic in the burgeoning neighborhood, the city is considering building a bridge over the Collins Canal. City officials have authorized a $639,000 feasibility study for the proposed bridge, on West Avenue between 17th and 18th streets, and plan to hold an up-or-down vote next year.

The bridge could help alleviate traffic congestion on Alton Road and make it easier for drivers and pedestrians to travel between Sunset Harbour and the rest of South Beach.

With promises of better parking and potentially a smoother flow of traffic in Sunset Harbour, restaurateurs, grocers and retail companies are flocking to the sleepy neighborhood.

Fresh Market selected the neighborhood for its first Miami Beach location. The popular produce market is set to open its newly built 24,000 square-foot location, at 1800 West Ave., on Wednesday morning.

A handful of restaurants—including Morgan’s, Barceloneta and Pubbelly’s Sushi—have opened in the past six months. Catering mostly to a local crowd, the restaurants have found a loyal niche during dinnertime.

“These property owners look upon this as a chance to almost create another Lincoln Road,” said Frank Kruszewski, president of the Sunset Harbour Neighborhood Association. “Once the garage is built, you’ll have the ability to park your car and go to a couple different places.”

Earlier this year, Rosinella Restaurant purchased the property that has housed Riverside Gordon Funeral Home for decades. The family-owned Italian restaurant, with a popular outpost on Lincoln Road, is planning to build a restaurant, bakery and coffee shop at the 1920 Alton Rd. site. Construction could begin in the next few weeks, said co-owner Tonino Doino.

The company expects more restaurants and businesses to follow suit and move into the area in the coming years.

“It’s going to be a nice area,” Doino said. “It’s a completely new area and I think it’s a great neighborhood, especially for local people.”


Source:  Miami Herald