Development partners, from Left: Bob Brvenik or Paragon Outlets, Russell W. Galbut of Crescent Heights and Salem LaHood of Paragon Outlets listen to a presentation at the February Design Charrette for SoBePark, held at The Shelborne Hotel.

Crescent Heights and Paragon Outlets will host the finale of their Design Charrette Competiton for the development of the 500-800 blocks of Alton Road on Thursday, April 26, 2012. The public unveiling of the design teams’ work will be held beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the Miami Beach City Commission Chambers, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach.

Three of the worlds most renowned architectural firms traveled to Miami Beach in February to vie to design this signature project at the gateway to South Beach. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Gensler and Benoy + Add, Inc. participated in three days of meetings with the community punctuated with local tours and work sessions.

“Never has a private development been so public,” Crescent Heights Managing Principal Russell W. Galbut said to Miami Beach News, “We hope for even more public input when the final designs are revealed.”

When Galbut first approached the City of Miami Beach with plans to build a 400 thousand square foot retail center with a 200 thousand square foot high-end residential tower, the administration made some requests of their own.

“We were asked to solve the pedestrian and bicycle connectivity issue between the Marina walk and the Bay walk. Currently, it is almost impossible to cross Fifth Street on foot at Alton Road.” Galbut said.

The design teams were eager to bring more life and street activation to such an important artery. Each team embraced the challenge and took special care and attention to designing signature gateway bridges that connect the two westernmost walkways along Biscayne Bay over the Macarthur Bridge.

The designs also featured stunning residential towers and underground parking. However, it was the rooftop gardens and park, evoking New York City’s acclaimed High Line that impressed the development partners the most.

“Many of the designs featured Centers enhanced by an elevated park!” exclaimed Bob Brvenik, Principal of Paragon Outlets. “It was a dynamic and forward thinking approach to an urban retail shopping experience. The first of its kind.” In fact, one design by SOM created more Public Park than would be possible if all the land on the ground was made into a street-level park.

Between February and April, when the design teams return to present their refined and final designs, conversation focused on the Flyover that carries much of the traffic off of the Macarthur onto Miami Beach.

“It became clear, as the designers addressed the practical issues surrounding their designs that the Flyover would have to change,” commented Galbut.

Benoy + Add, Inc., proposed a rebuilt flyover, with a cantilevered, organic design that would carry twice the number of cars onto Alton Road as well as offer a dedicated ramp into the public parking garages. However, after discussions with the Florida Department of Transportation it became clear that removing the Flyover might be the best solution for Miami Beach.

“As a member of the Project Development and Environmental study for the Alton Road reconstruction project, I knew that a lack of available right-ofway was the major factor in FDOT’s inability to address the Flyover,” Gabrielle Redfern, Project Manager at Crescent Heights told the Miami Beach News, “Russell Galbut and Crescent Heights was willing to provide what no other developer had ever been willing to provide before to ease the congestion: Land.”

As part of the mixed-use development, Crescent Heights will propose providing an easement for additional lanes that will lessen the congestion coming onto Miami Beach as well as aid emergency evacuation.

“I can’t wait to see what the designers have done with the new opportunities,” gushed Galbut. “We need the Community to come out and help us decide what is the best design for our project and the best answer to fix Alton Road.”

For more information on SoBePark, or to RSVP to the presentation, contact

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  1. Sara Kontoff Baker | April 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply

    Skidmore Owings and Merrill presented a beautiful and aesthetic design that respected the integrity of SOBE- it's natural environment and pedestrian pleasures–it is a walking city. By connecting what already exists through a network of parks and open space, their stunning design really anticipated how people would use the spaces using slightly graded ranps to move over obstacles. It would also offer new kinaesthetic experiences. I would be interested in hearing how many feet are allocated to retail, parking and the effect of traffic on the neighborhood and looking forward to hearing these details. I love their concept.
    Sara Kontoff Baker

  2. Some residents of this beach dislike Russel Galbut yet he has always been at the forefront in making this beach better for its resdents . Yet the newbies of this place are not aware that his late father was a great person an helped a large number of Senior residents plus his ideas have brought good things to this beach This project is a great idea Fifth street an Alton Road needs it why is simple The area is a total mess filled with a bunch of nuts behind the wheels is time that pedestrians an cyclists that could loose their lives in a second . I think is time to look for the future in Miami Beach maybe Im biass since his brother Robert has been my doctor for years The Galbut family has help this place more . Chuck Hall gave us a new beach Russel will give a lot as his brothers have . Keep the good work Russel

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