Miami Reports No Rush For Permits Ahead Of Zoning Overhaul
Written by Eric Kalis on March 8, 2007
By Eric Kalis
The notion that developers in Miami would rush to apply for major use special permits before the city’s zoning code revision is completed hasn’t been realized, city officials say.
The city’s planning department has received only three applications this year, half the number it had in the first two months of 2006, said assistant director Luciana Gonzalez. Developers filed four applications in the first two months of 2005, Ms. Gonzalez said.
The city’s data refutes the conventional wisdom that builders would frantically try to get major use special permits approved before the first portion of Miami 21, a rewrite of the city’s zoning code, is approved.
"It seems that MUSP applications continue to be about the same as they have been for the past three years," Ms. Gonzalez said. "It is possible that applications slowed down due to market conditions, which is something that is not only happening in Miami but seems to be a national trend."
The Related Group submitted the most recent application, last month for Loft III, a 495-unit workforce housing project planned for an acre along 201 Northeast Second Ave. and 200 Third St. Architectural firm Cohen Freedman Encinosa and Associates is to design the 360-foot building with 14,000 square feet of retail space.
The project site is within 600 feet of a Metrorail station, so Related is not required to provide onsite parking, according to the city’s zoning code. However, the developer worked out a deal to lease up to 500 spaces in the Miami Parking Authority’s nearby College Station Garage as part of the authority’s campaign to promote workforce housing near transit stations. To qualify, Related was required to price at least 297 of the 495 residences at less than $300,000.
Saxon Development Co. applied in January to build Edgewater Tower, a 41-story residential building at 701 NE 31st St. The tower is to have 201 units and 325 parking spaces on 3 acres in "the heart of the Edgewater neighborhood, surrounded by other high-rise projects," the developer’s application states. Broward County architect BTM is designing the tower.
Astor Development of Miami applied for a major use special permit in January for Nordica on Eighth, a 415-condo project at 1150 SW Seventh St. with 26,035 square feet of retail space. The developer is to provide 325 parking spaces and 24,843 square feet of open space on the 3-acre site in the city’s Little Havana Target Area.
According to the developer’s application, the project is to cater to young professionals who seek close access to the Brickell area.
The planning department conducts a staff review of all major use special permit applications and makes recommendations before the planning advisory board — and eventually the city commission — votes on the project. The planning advisory board does not always concur with planning staff, as evidenced by the board’s 7-1 vote last month to deny developer Nickel Goeseke a permit to build a 56-story mixed-use tower on Southwest 15th Road and South Miami Avenue despite a favorable department recommendation.
Board chairwoman Arva Moore Parks said she voted against the $490 million project because of its proximity to low-density residential neighborhoods and minimal setback from the sidewalk on South Miami Avenue.
Once approved by commissioners, a major use special permit is valid for two years. The developer can extend the permit for two years twice.