Miami’s board of directors voted to grant preliminary archaeological designation to the site of the Related Group’s planned Baccarat Residences development, but the future impact on the project is unclear.
The Miami Historic and Environmental Conservation Commission unanimously approved the resolution at Tuesday’s meeting and is expected to vote on the final designation in November. The developer’s attorney, Iris Escarra of Greenberg Traurig, said Related had no objection to the original designation of the site as 444 Brickell Avenue.
Related Miami, led by Jorge Pérez and his sons Jon Paul and Nick, plans to build a 75-story luxury condo tower on the site , the brand is Baccarat. Currently, there is an office building with a restaurant on the property.
With the vote, the city did not make a decision about the future of the planned project, what could be built or how some of the found artifacts would be displayed.
The site’s archaeological name has become a major bone of contention among conservationists. During excavations over the past two years, artefacts and human and animal remains dating back 7,000 years have been discovered. The finds could be among the most archaeologically significant discoveries near the mouth of the Miami River in more than two decades.
Related, which is pre-selling the Baccarat Residences apartments and has already secured financing for the neighboring property, has been costly with delays and uncertainty over final archaeological designations. In January, Related secured a $164 million construction loan from Truist Bank for the project, a 44-story, 506-unit leasehold tower. A third building is being planned.
In April, Escala told the board that additional delays related to the site would cause “extreme hardship and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.”
On Tuesday, Escarra sought and obtained an exception to the resolution that would allow related companies and their tenants to complete interior renovations and repairs of existing buildings without excavation, including repairs associated with the property’s 40-year recertification.
The public supports the archaeological designation, with some urging the city to force owners not to develop new towers on the site and make it a green space. A former archaeologist in the city of Miami says the city’s historic sites “are not getting enough attention.”
Fort Lauderdale resident Gloria Jones said: “There is a real rush to destroy this site and further damage the history and culture of the city of Miami.”
In April, the commission withdrew a planned archaeological destination proposal for a site adjacent to the luxury apartment building at 77 SE Fifth Street.
In his latest discovery of the site, South Florida archaeologist Bob Carr called it “a significant site” on Tuesday, where “truly incredible” objects and artifacts were found that are as Artifacts have never been seen before.
Excavations could be completed within months, the meeting said.