City clears roadblock to restoration of Miami Marine Stadium
Miami commissioners have passed zoning legislation essential to restore Miami Marine Stadium.
Approved unanimously this month, the legislation would allow structures clearly designed for specific uses that no longer conform to the allowed zoning in an area to seek an exception. During an earlier Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board meeting, the city’s deputy planning director, Jeremy Calleros Gauger, said the legislation applies to Miami Marine Stadium.
“This is an amendment so when we have purpose-built structures, that they can continue to operate for that very specific use,” he said at the Oct. 7 meeting. “To be frank, what we’re talking about is the historic Marine Stadium on Virginia Key.”
A significant restoration of Miami Marine Stadium could be on the horizon, with city staff saying they could soon go out to procure a general contractor. With the stadium shuttered since 1992 after Hurricane Andrew, R.J. Heisenbottle Architects, the firm that designed the restoration, has estimated the cost to restore the Virginia Key landmark is around $48 million.
The stadium’s future is being determined at a time the city commission is reeling over its marinas. The commission recently voted to throw out proposals for Virginia Key Marina. Commissioners have asked the city for a holistic plan for the city’s marinas.
However, this removes one obstacles in the way of restoring the stadium. The stadium is on land zoned as civic space. City code currently does not allow civic spaces to be places of assembly.
The new legislation allows a structure meant to serve a use that’s no longer permitted in the zoning code to reestablish that use by getting an exception. To obtain an exception, it must go through the city’s planning board and may also need city commission approval. But to get an exception, the structure must be compatible with its current context and be in a locally designated historic site or be a contributing structure in a historic district.
At the time of the October planning meeting, the legislation had not clearly stated that the amendment would only apply to structures in historic districts. Some board members questioned whether it could be used elsewhere because it didn’t explicitly refer to historic structures.
Mr. Calleros Gauger said at that time that city staff could not identify any other structures in the city that would benefit from the language. He said there are structures across the city that are non-conforming but they were grandfathered in. The difference is that their status didn’t lapse as the stadium’s did.
“If the Marine Stadium had been in continuous use, we wouldn’t need this,” he said, “or if it only had that brief window when it wasn’t used.”