Major use special permit requests down in Miami in first half of year
By Eric Kalis
Despite a busy June for the Miami planning department, the pace of major use special permit applications this year is behind last year's, city officials say.
Planning staffers received eight applications in June, bringing the total filings for the year to 21, said assistant planning director Luciana Gonzalez. Developers filed 26 applications in the first half of last year, she said.
The drop in application volume has more to do with a slower real estate market in Miami than the looming City Commission vote on the first portion of Miami 21, a rewrite of the city's zoning code and land-use plan, Ms. Gonzalez said. Commissioners are to vote June 28 on the eastern quadrant, which includes Brickell and downtown Miami. Some commissioners are asking for a delay in the vote, however.
"Numbers are down from last year, which is in line with the current real estate market," Ms. Gonzalez said. "There has been a lot of pre-application activity here that keeps us busy. That has not slowed down."
The planning department conducts a staff review of all major use special permit applications and makes recommendations before the planning advisory board — and eventually the city commission — votes on the project.
City officials do not expect much activity during the summer, Ms. Gonzalez said. Only two applications were filed between July and September last year.
Developer David Podolsky is the only June applicant to request land-use and zoning changes, to accommodate Little Havana mixed-use project La Quinta Y La Ocho, planned for 2.3 acres at 504 SW Eighth St., now the site of a surface parking lot and grocery store. The area is zoned for medium-density residential uses.
If approved by commissioners, the project would include 232 residential units, 20,946 square feet of retail, 20,173 square feet of office and 13,212 square feet of open space. According to Mr. Podolsky's application, the project would be the "first architecturally significant redevelopment project in Little Havana in recent years."
The Brickell area could have a new hotel overlooking Simpson Park if commissioners approve a local consortium's application to build a mixed-use complex on three acres at 1420 SW First Court. The development partnership of Coral Station Ltd., Taylor Land Development Co. and Economics Properties Inc. aims to build a 10-story tower with 213 hotel units, a nine-story tower with 133,733 square feet of Class A office space and 101,043 square feet of retail and a six-story parking garage.
According to the developer's application, the complex would be an urban center in the Brickell area for hotel guests and commercial tenants.
In downtown Miami, developer 25 Plaza Corp. is asking commissioners to approve a 155-foot commercial tower to complement the Biscayne Park II residential mixed-use project planned for 250 NE 25th St. The commercial tower would include 122,100 square feet of office and 9,586 square feet of retail space. The 26-story residential tower is to comprise 214 multifamily units and about 19,000 square feet of commercial space.
To address a shortage of urban workforce housing in the city, The Related Group applied to build Related Lofts IV, a 404-unit residential complex on an acre at 151 SE First St. The complex would include a 3,760-square-foot convenience store and is near a transit station, the developers say.
Once approved by commissioners, a major use special permit is valid for two years. The developer can extend the permit for two years twice.