South Beach’s iconic Clevelander Hotel and Bar on the famed Ocean Drive are set to undergo a remarkable transformation thanks to Florida’s new Live Local Act, which took effect on July 1. This groundbreaking legislation allows developers to navigate past restrictive local zoning regulations by committing to the construction of workforce housing, with the aim of enhancing accessibility and affordability in the housing market.
Under the provisions of the Live Local Act, developers can now build up to 150 residential units per acre. Crucially, 40% of these units must be earmarked as income-restricted, designed to remain affordable for workforce residents for a substantial 30-year period.
The driving force behind this ambitious project is the Jesta Group, owners of the Clevelander Hotel. They have already engaged a distinguished architect to spearhead the design of the forthcoming 30-story tower. In the days ahead, they plan to collaborate closely with the city to submit comprehensive architectural blueprints.
The proposed development is slated to replace the existing Clevelander and adjoining Essex House hotel, both of which are owned by Jesta. This move reflects the company’s commitment to not only maintaining South Beach’s iconic reputation but also responding to the evolving needs of the community.
Addressing the announcement, Alexander Tachmes, spokesperson for Clevelander and attorney at Shutts & Bowen, noted, “We are now facing a severe labor crisis in Miami Beach’s hospitality industry. It is extremely difficult to attract and retain talent in an industry with a dwindling labor pool and nowhere for existing employees to live.”
Anthony O’Brien, Senior Managing Director of Jesta Group, expressed enthusiasm for the unique opportunity the Live Local Act provides. He stated, “With the Live Local Act, we now have a unique opportunity to do that. The Act allows us to redevelop the Clevelander and Essex House sites with enough density and square footage to justify the shift in our business model while providing an important public service in the form of affordable housing… We are excited at the unique opportunity to offer true affordable housing on South Beach which will remain in place for decades to come.”
As this project takes shape, it not only promises to bring affordable housing to the heart of South Beach but also demonstrates the potential for innovative solutions to address pressing community needs in our ever-evolving world.