Miami grants major-use permits to Biscayne, Little Havana projects
By Deserae del Campo
Miami has granted major use special permits for construction of Altos Plaza and 5220 Biscayne, mixed-use projects that would create more than 500 residential units.
City commissioners last week heard the permit request from developers of Altos Plaza, from 121 to 251 SW 22nd Ave. and at 2180 SW First St. in Little Havana, and praised their project.
"This area is experiencing revitalization, and this project is showing what we want in the future for the area," said Commissioner Joe Sanchez. "This is one of the best projects I've seen."
Altos Plaza is to include two multi-unit residential towers - one 18 stories, the other 15. A Publix grocery store is to sit between the towers.
Altos Plaza is to include 320 residential units, 7,000 square feet of office space, 36,470 square feet of retail space and 636 parking spaces.
"We did ask for several conditions that relate to the design of this project," said Lourdes Slazyk, assistant city planning director.
One condition the city set is to include wall murals from Little Havana artists to face Southwest 22nd Avenue outside the Publix.
The murals are to depict the Hispanic culture of Little Havana, said Robert Behar, president of Behar Font & Associates, architect for the project.
"This is truly a mixed-use project and the first of its kind," Mr. Behar said. "It will better improve the neighborhood and better improve the quality of life."
After commissioners granted the permit for Altos Plaza, they heard the special-permit request for 5220 Biscayne, at 5200 and 5220 Biscayne Blvd.
The 183-unit residential building is to stand 11 stories and include 10,300 square feet of retail space and 322 parking spaces.
The construction cost is estimated at $54 million. The project is expected to create 424 construction jobs and 36 permanent jobs.
Developers would have to demolish the Maule Building, designed by well-known Miami architect Lester Pancoast in 1954, which now occupies the property, before groundbreaking next year. The building demonstrates what is called MiMo architecture - Miami Modern.
Commissioner Johnny Winton asked City Attorney Jorge L. Fernandez whether the commission has a right to bar developers from demolishing the building. Mr. Hernandez told him the city "has no right to deny the demolition of this building" because it is not in an historic district.
The discussion, said Luciana Gonzalez, special projects coordinator for the planning department, spurred a directive from Mr. Winton that the city look at MiMo architecture and the possibility of creating a MiMo historic district.