Miami Beach goes all out to woo Class A office space
With companies ranging from Goldman Sachs to one- and two-person shops heading south in droves to tax-friendly states like Florida, Class A office space is a commodity – and one Miami Beach is hoping to build more of.
Multiple ordinances and resolutions are working their way through the Beach’s commission and committees regarding zoning changes and incentives aimed at increasing class A space in strategic areas including parts of Terminal Island, Alton Road, Sunset Harbor and Lincoln Road.
This month commissioners unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance to allow a height increase from 40 feet to 75 for office space on Terminal Island, which would effectively allow developer Related Group to move forward with a five-story, two-building office project on the island if passed on final reading.
More controversial was the second half of the proposed ordinance, which would allow developers to build offices up to 75 feet on the east side of Alton Road between 15th and 17th streets. After hearing public comment and discussing the item, commissioners split the ordinance, sending the Alton Road portion back to the Land Use and Sustainability Committee, where it is to be discussed in January.
A handful of residents spoke against the proposed increases on Alton, which would take the maximum building height from 50 or 60 feet to 75, saying they would be out of character with the neighborhood. Both the Terminal Island and Alton Road portions were recommended unanimously by the city’s planning board, and a memo from former city manager Jimmy Morales said the height increases are essential to the construction of Class A space as they would allow for high ceilings, a defining characteristic of high-end offices.
The planning board is also to review next month a proposal to upzone a single block within Sunset Harbor as part of a pilot program that would allow a maximum height of 65 feet for the area bound by Dade Boulevard on the south, Purdy Avenue on the west, 18th Street on the north, and Bay Road on the east.
If the draft ordinance eventually passes, it will allow for a five-story office and mixed-use building on 1759 Purdy Ave. to be developed by Deco Capital Group. Tracy Slavens, a partner in law firm Holland & Knight’s Miami office who is representing the developer, told commissioners she worked with city staff this summer on the draft, which would allow for the 65-foot height increases and include a sunset clause requiring building permits to be obtained by December 2022.
Commissioners said they hoped this pilot plan would fit into an overall Neighborhood Vision Plan for Sunset Harbor, which addresses issues such as height and setbacks for the entire neighborhood and is in its early stages of working through the legislative process.
Members of the public expressed overwhelming support for the Deco Group project itself, which would take the place of an empty lot, but a few expressed concerns about the single-block zoning including the possibility of structures on top of the higher roofs like bulkheads adding even more height.
Commissioners noted that in a final ordinance regulations on rooftop structures could be examined, and Commissioner Michael Gongora requested that language be added to ensure the height increase would only be allowed on lots large enough to support it.
The city in October also requested letters of interest in development of three municipal parking lots adjacent to Lincoln Road, Miami Today reported, with plans to close the process next month and consider requesting proposals to build class A offices on Surface Parking Lots 25, 26 and 27. Lyle Stern, a member of the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District, said the group planned to work with the city and its own public relations representatives at Schwartz Media Management to craft a marketing plan targeting developers around the world.