Miami names next big development pocket
Written by John Charles Robbins on December 3, 2014
As the Wynwood Arts District flourishes, and the Design District shines, what other areas of Miami are destined to be reborn by an influx of capital and creativity?
City planners are focusing on several blocks of Northwest 20th Street north of the Miami River as the next area poised for redevelopment.
At the direction of the planning and zoning staff, the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board has recommended rezoning more than 60 acres on both sides of Northwest 20th to encourage new mixed-use developments and create much-needed housing options.
To accomplish this, two votes are needed by the city commission: to change the land use designation from Light Industrial to General Commercial, and change the zoning.
The area is along Northwest 20th Street, generally from Northwest 27th to 13th avenues.
“We propose to redefine Northwest 20th Street as a mixed-use corridor,” said Planning Director Francisco Garcia.
He told the board the proposed rezoning would significantly expand uses. The changes would also prohibit uses like heavy industrial, he said.
The rezoning is designed to encourage new development along a major thoroughfare, allowing for mixed uses and spurring new residential projects, said Mr. Garcia.
Under the city’s former zoning code, that area of Northwest 20th allowed a density of 150 dwelling units per acre. When Miami 21 was adopted a few years ago, the density rule in that area dropped to 36 units per acre, said Mr. Garcia.
The rezoning would restore the 150 units allowance, he said. The hope is the changes will draw developers willing to invest in residential and commercial mixed-use projects.
“We think we’ve got it right,” Mr. Garcia said. “The feedback has been overly positive.”
Rezoning from Light Industrial to General Commercial is compatible with much of the current uses, staff said.
The area of about 62.7 acres is approximately between Northwest 20th and 21st streets and Northwest 19th and 13th avenues, and for land fronting the north side of Northwest 20th Street between Northwest 19th and 27th avenues, along with sites fronting the south side of Northwest 20th Street from Northwest 27th Avenue to the Seybold Canal.
That length of Northwest 20th Street is home to row after row of small warehouses and wholesale businesses. It’s not particularly pretty but it’s near the river, the health district and mass transit.
The planning staff has reached out to the property owners via the Neighborhood Enhancement Team Office to explain ramifications of the rezoning, said Mr. Garcia, and gotten overwhelming support.
Several property owners attended the board’s Nov. 5 meeting and none opposed the change. Most asked about whether their businesses could stay in the area after a rezoning. Planning staff said uses like general warehouses and self-storage businesses would be allowed.
A staff analysis states:
•The character and density of the site and surrounding area are consistent with General Commercial, specifically because this future land use designation acknowledges the existing wholesaling activities.
•The changes would buffer the lower density residential areas south of the corridor from the impact of the industrial uses north of the corridor and promote the same character on both sides of the street.
•The changes would “acknowledge the increase of the residential component in this area of the city.”
•The proposed changes are consistent with city rules and policies that “allow for the development and redevelopment of well-designed mixed-use neighborhoods that provide for the full range of residential, office, live/work spaces, neighborhood retail, and community facilities in a walkable area and that are amenable to a variety of transportation modes, including pedestrianism, bicycles, automobiles, and mass transit.”
The city commission might consider the changes for Northwest 20th Street in December or after the first of the year.