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Front Page » Communities » North Miami moves closer to Chinatown architectural plan

North Miami moves closer to Chinatown architectural plan

Written by on August 14, 2018
North Miami moves closer to Chinatown architectural plan

The proposed Chinatown in North Miami is moving closer to solidifying some design plans. The city could be requesting proposals for architecture firms in the next few weeks, according to City Manager Larry Spring Jr., who said the city also plans a surprise public announcement in the next three to four weeks.
“Currently, our in-house engineers are looking at storm water plans so that we can to have the details for the RFP [request for proposals]. That RFP will be to start the street redesign work,” Mr. Spring said. “Our engineers are supposed to be getting back to me in the next week or so. For the storm water collection system we are looking to unify it, create a water feature and build it into the new look of the street.”
As for the surprise announcement, he said it will be a city-initiated project working with both the public and private sectors that “may already be built or started. But it will be a physical space.”
North Miami city officials are continuing to meet with potential Chinatown investors while the in-house engineers work on the storm water plans, Mr. Spring said. They are hosting delegations as well as individual investors, and Mr. Spring said he had a meeting scheduled the next day with an investor who flew in from China earlier in the week.
So far, most investors are interested in mixed-use development.
The Chinatown Cultural Arts & Innovation District, which was championed by Vice Mayor Alix Desulme and designated by the North Miami City Council in 2016, is to be comprised of 16 blocks of commercially zoned land along Northwest Seventh Avenue between 119th and 135th streets.
The area is to be complete with parks, green space, bike lanes and rooftop gardens, along with pagodas, canals and an entrance inspired by the Ming Dynasty,
The city completed a conceptual design master plan for the district in September 2017. The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency approved the city’s master plan on Nov. 14, 2017, according to Mr. Spring.
“Obviously, we want to attract authentic restaurants so we have cultural elements for it to become a tourist destination. We might have an innovation incubator where we’re inviting entrepreneurs and researchers and different industries to come in and take a space,” Mr. Spring said. “We’re looking at rezoning the area to include residential buildings on the east side of Seventh Avenue that will attract residential investors, as well as interest with the hotel.”
Mr. Spring declined to name any developers or investors.
The CRA paid about $175,000 to Keith & Schnars for development of the master plan and the city planned a minimum of $3 million for street construction, Mr. Spring told Miami Today in December 2017. The total contract with Keith & Schnars is $200,000 to $250,000, he said.
The project is still estimated to cost about $60 million, with $2 million for maintenance and beautification and $300 million in total potential development. The “high-level estimate” was $60 million and the city has not drilled down on that number any more since, but it is probably going to be cheaper based on how the city is looking at it, Mr. Spring said.
The city would like some physical development in the designated Chinatown area in the next fiscal year but faces procedural hurdles, Mr. Spring said. He listed Florida Department of Transportation permitting along with permitting from the county that could turn a year into a year and a half to two years.
But the public will see “elements” of Chinatown by 2024, Mr. Spring said. One of the first pieces that may be up is the gateways on either side of the area. Mr. Spring previously said in December 2017 that at the beginning of 2018, the city would request proposals from architectural firms to begin the gateway design.
“We went back to Keith & Schnars, the company that designed the master plan, and asked them to provide us with design concepts for the gateways. They’re still working on that,” Mr. Spring said. “We met with them about four weeks ago.”
The city is also talking internally regarding the current US administration’s stance on trade with China, Mr. Spring said, and has to “watch what’s happening on a federal level.” However, there has not been any reduction in interest in the project from Chinese investors, he said.
Some benefit for North Miami’s Chinatown has come from the recent tax code that President Trump pushed through, according to Mr. Spring. The city was able to designate a part of Chinatown as an underserved development area.
“We’re able to take advantage of the President’s opportunity zone in the new tax code. It created a tax incentive on capital gains,” Mr. Spring said. “If you go into one of these areas and put a mixed-use building or infrastructure and you hold onto that property for 10 years, you get a full tax credit on your capital gains when you sell the asset.”


9 Responses to North Miami moves closer to Chinatown architectural plan

  1. Michael

    August 15, 2018 at 10:07 am

    This is grasping at straws and an attempt to create Disney World. Do they expect Chinese people to live there? That’s what makes a Chinatown, not fancy Chinese gates and pagodas and I am a firm believer in the aesthetic value of urban design. The community is mostly African-American and they are the ones who are going to apply for jobs there.

    • DC Copeland

      August 17, 2018 at 10:21 am

      I agree. This whole project is nuts. To make this work, they are going to have to import Chinese people, too, because you will be hard pressed to find one anywhere near 7th Ave. Instead, if anything, it should have an African American theme since the majority of N Miami west of Biscayne Blvd is African and Haitian American.

  2. Jason Chennault

    August 17, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    There are already many Chinese people in that area along with Chinese owned and managed businesses. This should be a fairly easy lift actually. Plus Miami is currently getting and will be getting much more investments via China and Arab funds too.

    • DC Copeland

      August 17, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      Dear Mr. Chennault, I thought you might have some action going on in this cockamamie business plan to justify it or that you just might be a tad delusional re “many Chinese people” abide in that part of North Miami so I Googled you and discovered I was right, re the latter. This is you on FB: “Jason Chennault October 16, 2017 ·
      If I were Russian I would vote for Putin , as an American I would vote for Putin if I could, in fact as an American I wish we had someone like Putin for president. Trump and his patriotism is the closest thing this country has seen in a very long time.”

    • Michael

      August 17, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      According to Census estimates, the entire Asian (not just Chinese) population of North Miami is 2% of the entire population.
      That’s approximately 1,244 Asians in the entire city of North Miami. From what I understand “Asian” incorporates the entire continent of Asia, from Israel to Japan. There really aren’t enough Chinese people in the entire city to populate a Chinatown.

      • DC Copeland

        August 20, 2018 at 11:32 am

        Thank you for proving my point. Stats don’t lie unless, of course, you’re living in a post truth world like we are today. Well, at least in the U.S. and Russia.

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  4. Robert Freeman

    November 10, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    This is a interesting proposal/plan. Many other cities have China Towns so why not Miami?

    I grew up in Chicago where a Chinatown has existed since the late 19th century. Much of this Chinatown is based on local business. In the last 25 years it has been expanding its foot print with new very expensive housing. The CT has its own hospital, Walgreen’s, catholic churches, catholic schools, many restaurants, senior housing. There are many Chinese families who descend from original immigrants. Also the CT attracts many Chinese from around the world who are attracted to Chicago for jobs, education, lower cost of living.

    Next I moved to Atlanta and found the Asian community was smaller, fragmented and more suburbanite. Since about ’03 I have seen Atlanta asian population grow because of cost of living, jobs, Asian culture. There are many Asian churches [Korean, Buddhist, Chinese, Vietnamese] in Atlanta, many Asian shopping centers anchored by large Asian super market chains [Jusgo, H-Mart, Great Wall] and there is a Chinatown with shops, restaurants & cultural center. The development of the Asian community has been a gold mine for all. Many of these groups were very small in ’03 and today Asians drive the development of many companies, and shopping centers in the Atlanta area.

    Today I live close to Orlando and see this process is happening there but the scale and speed of it is slower than it was in Atlanta. The community in Orlando is a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese. In ’07 there were far less Asian businesses along Colonial Drive in Orlando, than there are today. I know there are some other Asian hotspots around Orlando as well for people who work in technology.

    When in Atlanta or Orlando, when I speak to the Chinese about the businesses they have opened many indicate they came from LA or NYC to open their business because the cost of operating their business is so much lower. Some of the restaurants opening recently in Atlanta are owned by restaurant owners from New Yorks Chinatown.

    I am not familiar with Miami but I think this plan for Chinatown should go forward and have some flexibility to allow larger Asian chains like H-Mart, Great Wall Supermarket to come in and develop their larger stores and these stores will become the anchors of the Asian Community. Asian Churches and schools may follow. Many Asians in North America would retire to Florida, if Florida areas that offered higher quality Asian super markets and restaurants. In other words, more ASBs [Asian Snow Birds] and permanent Asian residents.

    • Michael

      November 12, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Mr. Freeman, I suggest that you read comments made above.