Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Lexi Move

The Lexi, a large new high rise as 7901 Hispanola Avenue, is a monument to the decline of North Bay Village. Developed by Scott Greenwald during the height of the condocraze in Miami, the Lexi was designed as a luxury condominium taking advantage of some truly spectacular bay views. As price rises spiraled insanely and then the market collapsed, the Lexi lost some of its luster.

The apartments are beautiful inside and the bay views from them are amazing but the ground floor of the building is derelict, looking like an abandoned strip mall fronted by an ugly parking lot. This is the face of the city today. It wasn't supposed to be this way.

The proposed ground floor plans included a variety of local businesses deemed "upscale" and was supposed to have included a Starbucks, restaurants, a spa and a useful veterinary clinic. Instead, the only restaurant, Mario the Baker, has closed, and the only activity on the ground floor is the "temporary" city hall and police station. It is at least from a commercial point of view a failure.

The City of North Bay Village is moving there next month. We had a preview of the new commission chambers at the December 14 meeting. A small, windowless room with poor acoustics will serve as our civic meeting hall. The light and the views from our current city hall will be replaced by a warren of closed in cubicles. The police station set up cannot by law include facilities appropriate for investigations and holding suspects so there will be a second facility on Galleon St. The parking lot in front of the building will get even more crowded.

The whole move was arranged for the benefit of Scott Greenwald, who had to turn to the city for this subsidy, and the benefit of former vice mayor George Kane, who pleaded "No Contest" to the charge that he used his position to promote this deal while collecting $12,500 annually as his commission for doing so. See the full report by clicking here.

So the city is going ahead with this move, at a cost of some $85,000 annually above what we pay now, in January. All so a politically well connected developer can recoup some money on a poorly executed bankrupt project. The laws of supply and demand are repealed by government fiat.

And how does Scott Greenwald repay the city's generosity? By waging a battle against the city to build his next sure to be successful project, a strip club to anchor our non existent boardwalk. The commission voted down the application but we all know it's coming back up and I predict next time it will be approved. Money has a way of doing that.

Kevin Vericker
December 29, 2010

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