September 21, 2020
Urgent Action: Tell the City Council to reject the proposed Miramar project now
Council must reject the proposed Miramar project at its upcoming meeting on September 29th and we all need to contact them to make sure that they do. Here’s why:
Development Agreements (DA) enable developers to build beyond what zoning allows. In theory, this permission is granted in exchange for some added benefit to the City and its residents.
DAs are terrible instruments as they essentially create huge exceptions to a neighborhood’s existing zoning. With a DA, zoning on any given project is whatever four Council members say it is. DAs allow for all kinds of mischief, and in the hands of a Council beholden to developers, they are a gift to the powerful from our City and its residents, who get very little in return.
When negotiating a DA our City should not substantially reduce the quality of life for residents in the surrounding community. The City should also force the developer to provide real and important benefits for the privilege of building way beyond what neighboring zoning allows
The current Miramar proposal fails both these tests.
It is a textbook example of DA abuse. The hotel gets to expand to twice its size with new high-end condos for the very wealthy that help pay for its project. Meanwhile, the neighborhood is left to absorb huge traffic and ensuing pollution impacts. The project will also inevitably increase the neighborhood gentrification of Ocean Avenue.
If condos are approved as part of the hotel, gentrification is inevitable.
Residents asked that the hotel reconsider adding 195,000 square feet of new condo units (60 units x 3000 sf) on the upper floors. Ultra-luxury condos for the extremely wealthy may be a good financing tool for the hotel, but they will contribute greatly to the bulk of the building, creating a virtual 11-story 130-foot wall along Second Street.
These luxury condos represent the sale of our most precious asset - a world class view of the ocean - by restricting it to the uber rich. And the revenue largely goes to the developer instead of hotel bed taxes to the City.
If the condos are allowed, they will set a precedent and be seen as a highly desirable planning tool along Ocean Avenue. This will inevitably accelerate the loss of diversity in our community. Older properties will become prime bait to be torn down and replaced with ultra-luxury housing. What’s at stake here is building a city increasingly for the wealthy and enriching the developer at the expense of our city’s livability.
The community benefits are grossly insufficient to support a project that demolishes the existing hotel to build a new hotel twice its size.
The developer will build 42 affordable housing units on Second Street, save one existing building, operate the open space designed for use by hotel guests as “publicly accessible,” (i.e. it's a hotel so people can come and go) and preserve the landmarked Moreton Bay Fig tree (as required by law). The rest of what the developer offers is pretty much the standard cash contributions required by the City.
This is a great deal for the developer as it pockets the revenues from the luxury condos once they are built, allowing it to recoup the costs for a spanking new luxury hotel. Likewise, because of the way the hotel acquisition was structured in 2006, this property will not be reassessed for tax purposes until 2026, or whenever the hotel reopens. So, for over 20 years the developer will save over $300,000 a year in taxes while the City loses out on its share of any additional property taxes.
On September 29th our City Council will decide whether to support its residents by requiring greater community benefits and a redesign that ensures acceptable circulation as well as eliminates high-end condos that benefit no one except the developer and the very wealthy. If Council greenlights this project, it will be a defining moment. It will be an approval of a hotel designed for the next 100 years, based on unreasonable circulation impacts and “short-term” thinking. New hotel revenue to shore up an economic downturn and desire for tourist dollars must not run roughshod over the quality of life for neighborhood residents and preserving community diversity.
What You Can Do Now
Council will vote on this in one week. Please email Council now at firstname.lastname@example.org and urge them to reject this project and include email@example.com so your comments are included in the public record. Then please circulate this email to your friends and neighbors and ask them to do likewise.