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Opposition from Neighbors Forces Sonnabend Family and Fortune International Realty to
 Withdraw Plans for Redevelopment of the Sonesta Beach Resort on Key Biscayne
By David Smiley, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

May 24, 2006 - Owners of Key Biscayne's Sonesta Beach Resort reconsider redevelopment plans

It's back to the drawing board for the owners of the Sonesta Beach Resort on Key Biscayne, who want to redevelop the property.

Fortune International Realty CEO Edgardo Defortuna and the Sonnabend family, which owns the hotel, withdrew an controversial application Tuesday that -- if approved -- would have allowed the construction of six, 183 foot-tall towers on the resort's beachfront property.

The project drew opposition from residents, who complained that the project -- which included hotel and condo units -- would increase the traffic and the number of people living there. An online petition against the zoning change garnered more than 1,100 names in 11 days. Key Biscayne has about 10,000 residents.

Mayor Robert Oldakowski said he thinks there can be a compromise on the project.

"I would ask you, in respect for what the Sonnabends and Defortunas have done for our community, to look at the process and begin again, because there's no doubt in my mind that this can be a win-win," Oldakowski said at a Tuesday night meeting.

Defortuna, a Key Biscayne resident, told the packed Council Chambers that he was "sorry he put everyone through this." It was not his intention to be against his neighbors, he said.

"Obviously we're going to have to build according to zoning laws," Defortuna said in an interview. "We had many options before we went ahead with this project, so we'll have to go back and regroup."

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Miami Herald

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