Fifth delay shoves 22-acre Little Haiti project vote to February
An application for a 22-acre Little Haiti project has stagnated in a City of Miami board, with members deferring action once again because the developer hasn’t got an adequate traffic study nor done enough strategizing to protect surrounding neighborhoods.
The Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board unanimously deferred a land use designation change for the Eastside Ridge special area plan (SAP) to Feb. 19, though the planning department and city attorney had urged the board to either approve or deny a recommendation to the city commission because another deferral could violate due process.
The Oct. 16 deferral is the fifth from the board. The Miami Herald previously reported on the decision.
The board recommended that developers make another traffic taking into account another SAP, the city commission-approved Magic City Innovation District. Board members also asked for more community outreach, with sign-in sheets to be submitted.
Sue Trone, from the city’s planning board, said the board had already made a motion on the zoning, failing to make a recommendation to the city commission. She said public comments – all of the about 25 residents who spoke opposed the project – dealt with zoning and not land use.
The site is near Northwest 54th Street and Second Avenue. Currently on the property is Design Place, a gated complex that contains 512 residential units, according to city documents.
The issue was whether the board favored changing the future land use map designation from medium-density multi-family residential to restricted commercial, which would broaden the scope of what is allowed in the area. The proposed project of up to 5.4 million square feet of new development would include nearly 3,200 residential units, more than 400 hotel rooms, nearly 300,000 square feet of commercial/retail and more.
The discussion lent itself to a larger conversation on how the city should approach SAPs, which can change a neighborhood. Also near the project are the Buena Vista, Morningside and MiMo District neighborhoods.
Board member Anthony Parrish said the board should hold a workshop, with an influx of SAPS being proposed in neighborhoods such as Little Haiti and Allapattah. He said the areas are being gentrified by SAPs blossoming too close and too fast.
“I have no problem deferring this now, I have no problem deferring it next time it comes back to us, until such time as progress is made or until the city commission or this board addresses the overall problems with SAPs,” Mr. Parrish said.
“We know there are problem with SAPs. We know what it’s doing in many places in the city, and I think deferral is entirely appropriate,” he added. “If they want to sue us, if they want to sue the city and say their due process has been violated, that is their right. And it is our right to try to do what is right by the City of Miami.”
Vicky Leiva, representing applicant SPV Realty LLC, said the developers and architects considered the board’s suggestions from the last meeting and found they could not make such changes to the packaging of the project.
“The constitutional right of an applicant is to bring his or her application forward as he or she sees fit consistent with the law,” she said. “And your staff has reviewed that application and determined by their recommendation of approval that we meet the requirements of the law, including that comprehensive plan policy that you heard about here tonight.”
Chairman Charles Garavaglia said another deferral probably wouldn’t lead to any changes because the developer has already received suggestions and chosen not to change the project. However, he ultimately sided with the rest of the board and deferred the item.
“I’m really wishy-washy on the deferral,” he said. “We’ve already asked them to defer it, to do something, and they’ve elected not to do anything.”