Miami River site cleared for market-rate apartments
Written by John Charles Robbins on April 3, 2018
Land use and zoning changes approved by Miami city commissioners for a Miami River site are clearing the way for a new market-rate apartment building.
Developer 1515 Miami River LLC plans a rental building with 63 apartments on the river’s south shore at 1515, 1529 and 1543 NW South River Drive.
The city commission granted final approval March 22 of requests for the 1.7-acre site, including changing the land use designation from single-family residential to low-density multifamily residential.
The property is near the Northwest 17th Avenue Bridge, and just north of the Dolphin Expressway (836) leading into and out of the city’s Health District.
At a first reading of the land use and zoning changes in January, Ben Fernandez, the developer’s attorney, detailed some voluntarily improvements to be made to the site, including installing and maintaining a public riverwalk.
The developer also plans to build a new seawall and make improvements to a small linear green space (a city right-of-way), abutting the west side of the site and framed by a U-shaped Northwest 16th Avenue, according to Mr. Fernandez.
At the January meeting, Commissioner Joe Carollo made it clear he’d like something more offered to the city in exchange for the rezoning and added density that comes with it.
On March 22, Mr. Fernandez reiterated the voluntary improvements to be made to the property and the city’s land next door, which will include new sidewalks, landscaping and drainage.
He said the developer-owner will allow waterfront access to the public from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. along a riverwalk that is being built as part of the multi-family residential project.
In addition, the developer promises to contribute $28,674 to the city’s public benefits fund, he said.
Mr. Fernandez said the amount of the monetary contribution was calculated considering added value of about 9.5 residential units gained through the rezoning, and the estimated costs voluntarily taken on by the developer to include construction of the new seawall and improvements to the mini park, estimated at $512,450.
Mr. Fernandez called the $28,674 contribution “generous.”
The specific promise in the covenant reads: “The owner shall contribute $28,674 to the Miami 21 Public Benefits Trust Fund payable in full prior to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy for new construction on the Property.”
In support of the land use and zoning changes, Mr. Fernandez said the area is changing significantly.
He cited the major impact from large mixed-use project River Landing, now under construction across the river from his client’s property.
The $300-plus-million River Landing Shops and Residences is rising at 1480 NW North River Drive, site of former Mahi Shrine Auditorium.
The 8.14-acre development is to include about 430,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, about 475 market-rate apartments in two towers, and parking for about 2,200 vehicles.
A couple of residents opposed the project for its potential impact on nearby single-family homes from added traffic, while a slightly larger group took no position on the project but asked the city to rezone their land as well.
One woman stressed that she doesn’t want commercial uses in the area.
The request to change land use and zoning of the property has led to a wider city study that could see the neighborhood rezoned for higher-density uses.
The site now has 14 boat slips, which would be maintained after maintenance dredging required by the county’s Department of Environmental Resources Management.
The site plan also calls for installing public on-road greenway along Northwest South River Drive, including a 5-foot-wide bike path, and shows a dedicated spot for a water taxi stop.
The Miami River Commission recommended approval of the project on Northwest South River Drive with four conditions:
Provide the public riverwalk as presented in plans and letter of intent, and insert the needed eastern side yard connector to eliminate a dead-end.
Construct the presented planned improvements to the adjacent public greenspace, including new elevated seawall and street, public walkway with landscaping, and the proposed water taxi stop.
Maintain recreational vessel dockage.
Provide a Working River Disclosure covenant as required by the city’s comprehensive plan.