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Controversy Brewing Over Potential Demolishment of Babylon Apartments

Babylon was Arquitectonica's first building

Babylon Apartments, Arquitectonica's first building, is facing potential demolition amid some controversy, reports the Miami Herald.

Claiming the five-story complex is unsafe, the City of Miami and and owner Francisco Martinez Celeiro want the award-winning landmark torn down with a 48-story tower built upon its grave. Completed in 1982, Babylon isn't eligible for historic or architectural landmark protection for another 16 years.

The rationale for the upzoning cited by city planning director Francisco Garcia and Martinez’s attorney: That the existing zoning designation, which limits construction on the property to eight stories, is the result of a "scrivener’s error" during the drafting of the city’s Miami 21 code several years ago, and should have been capped at a much higher 48 stories.

But there’s a problem with that assertion. Both the city planning director at the time of the drafting, as well as the chief Miami 21 consultant — by chance, one of the founding Arquitectonica members who worked on the Babylon — emphatically say there was no error.

In fact, the consultant — architect and planner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk — said the Miami 21 zoning designation for the property, which sits at the northeastern edge of the semicircular Brickell Bay Drive, was "very carefully considered" to match the zoning capacity allowed by the old code they were replacing.

Nearby residents have lawyered up to contest the rezoning, pointing to obstructed views, an infusion of people, and more traffic. They launched a petition titled "Say NO to Another Mega-Tower in Brickell."

The Herald reports the city commission will consider the upzoning on March 24 after the planning and zoning board recommended against rezoning in January.

Head here for all the messy details.