Publix spirit of 1776: a march toward Biscayne zoning OK
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Before plans keep rolling for Publix's much-anticipated 48,000-square-foot supermarket in the Omni area, the national chain grocer needs the city to grant a zoning change.
The multi-billion-dollar company applied to the City of Miami in March for a class II permit, which would allow it to build the first major grocery store for this booming neighborhood at 1776 Biscayne Blvd.
Design plans and permit request for the new Publix were reviewed by the Planning Department's Urban Development Review Board in late June, the planning department said.
To advance the permitting process, the department said Publix now has to seek a variance to be scheduled for this month.
A variance is often requested by builders to obtain a relaxation in the zoning code without resulting in "unnecessary and undue hardship on the property," according to the city's Web site. The city can grant variances such as for height, size of structure, off-street parking and loading requirements.
The city didn't reply to requests for explanation of the variance type Publix seeks.
The project is to cost Publix $7.5 million to build and encompasses a 48,200-square-foot supermarket, 251-space garage and two adjacent retail spaces, 3,250 and 2,025 square feet respectively, filed design plans show.
Publix didn't return calls for an update.
The site for the new Publix now sits empty other than a handful of fully-grown trees.
The one-square-block supermarket would face Biscayne Boulevard, bordered by Northeast 17th Terrace, Northeast 18th Street and Northeast Second Court, according to filed designs.
With the closest Publix serving this neighborhood now at 4870 Biscayne Blvd., the planned supermarket would benefit condo residents along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor and those in nearby residential areas who have for years voiced the need for a full-service grocer.
"Publix will serve the Edgewater community of condos, the single-family neighborhoods," said Tony Cho, owner and founder of Metro 1 Properties. Most of the residents who are east of Interstate 95 only have access to lower-end grocery stores, he added, but not a supermarket like Publix.
On the other side of the Miami River, the fast-growing supermarket chain has successfully expanded in recent years. Within bustling Brickell, Publix today operates three supermarkets within blocks of one another.
The Omni neighborhood is flourishing with new condominiums, entertainment venues like the performing arts center and new restaurants.
With more density and foot traffic in the area, Publix's decision to open in Omni is one other retailers plan to follow.
For example, Mr. Cho, who specializes in downtown retail leasing, said he has several clients looking to open alternative gourmet markets in the surrounding area.
"Publix is a leading indictor for people who want to follow them," he said, "and I think for the service and grocery sector more businesses will open."