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Front Page » Real Estate » Build it bigger, Miami review board suggests

Build it bigger, Miami review board suggests

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Written by on February 23, 2016

Build it bigger, Miami review board suggests

In a rare move, a Miami review board has sent a developer and his architect back to the drawing board after board members complained that a project isn’t big enough.

Main criticisms leveled at the mixed-use Eight and First Development were lost design opportunities, an uninviting corner for ground-level commercial space, a busy façade color scheme and failure to take full advantage of the workforce housing potential that zoning permits.

The plan from Eight and First LLC would bring a grocery store and 96 rental apartments to the Little Havana neighborhood. But zoning would allow 312 apartments, and the city’s Urban Development Review Board would like more.

The board deferred the plan for a high-profile site at 45 SW Eighth Ave., on the northeast corner of Southwest Eighth Avenue and First Street, after considering recommending its denial. The board advises the city’s planning director.

On a motion from Dean Lewis, the board voted Feb. 17 to defer the project, a maneuver that will allow the developer to return with a revised plan.

The architect for Eight and First Development is Herman Chaviano with DTI Architecture.

Mr. Chaviano told the board the original plan for the vacant site was limited to a one-story supermarket to “improve and enhance the area.”

The site plan for the food store went through the entire review and approval process, he said.

But the developer was advised that the site could hold much more than a supermarket.

The plan was changed to add a 12-story residential building with 96 units and a 311-space garage, along with the nearly 45,000 square feet of commercial space, with about 35,000 devoted to a Presidente Supermarket.

The residential building is accented with panels, balconies and corner pieces in bright colors defined by Mr. Chaviano as “the colors of Miami.”

The ground floor is anchored on the corner by the supermarket, and the landscaping would include palm and shade trees.

The goal was to “enhance the pedestrian experience in that area,” said Mr. Chaviano.

“It leaves a lot of opportunity on the table,” said Mr. Lewis, noting that the project could include up to 312 apartments.

“It’s a pity to leave 200 units on the table,” he said.

Mr. Lewis said he also wanted to talk about the elephant in the room: the use of rainbow colors. He said the design relies too much on paint. “Paint is only so good for so long,” he said.

Mr. Lewis also suggested reconsidering the design of the courtyard and the articulation of the supermarket.

Board chairman Robert Behar agreed.

“For the retail, you failed to express the corner. The supermarket needs more than a blank wall,” he said.

He said he didn’t feel comfortable recommending approval, especially since “it’s such an important location.”

In regard to the supermarket, Mr. Lewis said, “It doesn’t evoke food and freshness.” He suggested “create something new.”

Board member Neil Hall furthered that idea, encouraging the architect go to Presidente Supermarkets and work with the company to try a new look.

“There is a chance here for new models and designs,” Mr. Hall said. “You have an opportunity.”

7 Responses to Build it bigger, Miami review board suggests

  1. Edward

    February 24, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Wow I’m so glad that we have such a progressive review board for projects such as these. Some developers think they can rush through the review processes but certain elements of these big projects needs to be addressed.

  2. Alex

    February 24, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    They sent the architect back to the drawing board….they should have sent him back to school!!!!

  3. Francisco

    February 25, 2016 at 9:20 am

    I second Edward’s comment; it’s excellent that the Review Board is being to proactive and progressive. I live a block away from this site; and aside from a Presidente Supermarket, it would be ideal to have a Navarro Pharmacy.

  4. ray stein

    February 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Since we have the worst mass transit system in the country for our size, encouraging higher density when the bldg isn’t even walking distance to our very limited rail system is insane. Current zoning already ignores infrastructure and the constant upzoning to it which the city is allowing, in spite of what was to be an ideal, “fixed”, near-perfect code, Miami 21 (according to the city, then). Not all developers have the deep pockets or interest in a mega project, planning encouraing ever more density when traffic already is one of the city’s biggest problems might be self-serving to some pitching it, but is not in the publics’ interest.

  5. Sibongile

    February 25, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Congratulations to the review board! If a developer is coming into our city to “improve and enhance” areas near historically exploited neighborhoods, the review off their plans should be scrutinized for maximum potential.

  6. Juan R. Pollo

    February 25, 2016 at 10:50 am

    What’s wrong with expanding the tax base? The location is excellent, walking distance to downtown, Metrorail, Metromover, the river, the heart of Little Havana and Marlins Stadium. Good job, board.

  7. Gerwyn Flax

    February 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Glad to see the Review Board mentioning such things as “uninviting” and “It’s such an important location”. Where were they when Milo’s Melody was up for approval? What location is more important than the Arscht Center? Now he’s getting ready to build another ugly, “uninviting” rental building just down the block from the Arscht again. This area deserves cutting edge architecture, Not bland concrete apartments with ugly balconies.

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