Downtown Miami may lift rule that residential developers must provide parking
By Paola Iuspa
A zoning change for Miami's central business district would allow developers to build housing without including on-site parking.
The amendment being drafted could let developers arrange parking through partnerships at nearby lots instead of offering it on-site, such as in garages. The move would cut construction costs and savings could be passed on to tenants, said Otto Boudet, a senior adviser with the mayor's office.
Developers in the business district now must provide at least one on-site parking space per residential unit. City staffers are writing the amendment, which will go to Miami commissioners for a vote.
The change, to apply only to the business district north of the Miami River, aims at attracting investors to build moderate market-rate housing that could help revitalize downtown Miami, Mr. Boudet said.
Consideration of a zoning change is being prompted by developer Rafael Kapustin's proposal for K Place, a two-block residential complex between Northeast First and Third streets from Second Avenue to Biscayne Boulevard. Mr. Boudet said the money saved from not building parking could allow Mr. Kapustin to sell units for less than $200,000.
Mr. Kapustin said he already owns the land and plans six, 20-story buildings with ground-floor retail. He said he is talking to national developers about a joint venture and may start building late this year.
Miami Parking Authority Executive Director Art Noriega said he hopes to make a deal with Mr. Kapustin to lease him part of a 1,600-space city garage at 190 NE Third St. When built new, parking garages cost about $15,000 per space, Mr. Noriega said.
If the zoning change is made, it is not yet known if developers would be required to lease city-owned parking or free to make other off-site deals, said Lourdes Slazyk, assistant planning department director, who is drafting the amendment.
"Developers often arrange to use municipal garages to provide overnight parking," said Dave Feehan, president of the Washington, DC-based International Downtown Association, a nonprofit group that offers advice on creating dynamic city centers.
"Public parking garages are usually empty at night. In other cases, residents are allowed to park on the street. Often building on-site parking increases rent or sale prices, so you end up with market-rate housing but not for the market that you hoped to attract in the first place."
If the change is approved, it would not be the first time Miami has made an exception to its requirements for parking. Almost two years ago, a similar change was made for the Park West area, soon to be home to the performing arts center.
Since then, nightclubs and art studios have arrived, but so have parking complaints. Business owners recently met with commissioners and said the parking shortage will cost them patrons.
Mr. Feehan said parking is needed to revitalize a downtown, but that keeping it clean and policed are the main ingredients to attracting residents.
"A downtown needs to be clean and safe," he said. "If it is not clean, people don't believe they are safe."