$600 million private plan to "wake up" downtown Miami sails through city permitting
By Susan Stabley
In less than five minutes, Miami city commissioners Tuesday gave a green light to a $600 million, three-block development that could add 1,500 condos to the heart of the downtown.
The unanimous approval gives South Miami-based MDM Development Group permits to transform 6 acres of mostly paved parking across from Dupont Plaza and north of the Miami River into an entertainment, retail and residential anchor. Conditions include dropping plans for a pedestrian bridge across Third Avenue.
"We believe it is a catalyst to wake up the downtown," said attorney Gilberto Pastoriza, speaking on behalf of the project.
Calling it a "neighborhood," he said in addition to condos, 9,000 square feet of offices, 218,500 square feet of retail and about 4,200 parking spaces are planned.
A fleet of planners, architects and even a historian were with Mr. Pastoriza to answer questions, but there were none.
MDM's only stumbling block could have come from concerns about congestion along Southeast Second Street and Southeast Second Avenue that in August led the Urban Development Review Board to recommend against the project.
But, zoning staff told commissioners, the sites are within an area affected by a pending transportation master plan so congestion did not need to be an issue.
The project could finish by late 2005, said MDM Vice President Timothy Weller. The sites are part of the 9-acre One Miami project, which includes two already-approved residential towers on Biscayne Bay to be built by The Related Group.
MDM's plans call for two roughly 40-story towers on the southeast and west corners, with a 72-story building on the northwest tract. A four-story retail/entertainment center, equal to eight stories high, would house a 16-theater, stadium-seat cinema.