6,010 Comments

Allapattah’s ‘Authentic Bario’ Feel Makes Way For Increased Development

When she came from Boston in the late 90s to study at the University of Miami, Mileyka Burgos-Flores quickly got homesick. She missed the food and flavor of her Dominican family and she was desperate for a Dominican hair salon. The cafeteria workers she’d befriended at school had the answer: we’ll take you to el barrio, they told her.

That’s how Burgos-Flores, executive director of the Allapattah Collaborative, got to know the neighborhood built up by Black Miamians and immigrants from the Caribbean and Central America. She soon picked up on Allapattah’s distinctive features. The breezy porches where neighbors actually talked to each other across the fence. The cosmopolitan bodegas and the street vendors residents knew by name. And of course, local watering holes like Club Típico Domínicano, the 1980s restaurant that shimmies into a nightclub with live music on the weekends.

“It’s a very warm and welcoming neighborhood,” said Burgos-Flores, whose work entails preserving the neighborhood and helping its small businesses thrive. “People don’t just go into local businesses to get their hair done, or to eat or to do their taxes. They go to hang out; they know each other and they keep an eye out for each other.”

That kind of pride among local residents is what drew art collector Mera Rubell to the area in 2019. Along with her husband Don and son Jason, the family converted a warehouse complex that previously housed a wholesaler of rice, beans and other food items into the Rubell Museum, previously located in Wynwood. The site sits cradled by the metroline and railroad tracks.

“This was a new frontier,” Rubell said. “Our dream was to create a kind of concentrated destination for culture. What’s nice is we’re not displacing anybody. These were old buildings that can no longer accommodate the heavy warehouse use it needs.”

The museum is just one of a collection of art spaces in the area, which runs from State Road 112 south to the Miami River and west from Interstate 95 to Northwest 27th Avenue. Jorge Pérez’s El Espacio 23 has also called industrial Allapattah home for the last two years. The newest addition to the art scene, Superblue, across the street from the Rubell, turned a warehouse into an immersive art space in May. The private museums are neighbors with a massive wholesale grocer; across the street, an open-air fruit market sells tropical fruit juices, coconut water and varieties of mangoes and bananas that swing from an awning.

Other recent additions have drawn people to the neighborhood through their bellies. Even on a weekday at lunch it can be hard to snag a parking spot at Hometown Barbecue, a New York transplant whose Brooklyn location is considered one of the country’s best barbecue spots.

It’s all quickly snowballing to turn Allapattah into Miami’s newest “it” spot. Burgos-Flores’ friends in the neighborhood share sightings of limousines ferrying partygoers to underground nightlife in the area. The charm that caught her eye two decades ago is still present; Allapattah remains a place where the word “authentic” still rings true. But there’s no denying things are changing.

New rentals are popping up and just as quickly evaporating due to demand from those who want to be close to the Miami Health District.

The latest is 14-story No. 17 Residences, on Northwest 17th Avenue. Renters — primarily medical and graduate students and health district employees quickly snapped up apartments, according to Lisette Calderon, CEO of developer Neology Life Development Group. Apartments start at $1,300 per month for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom layout.

“What I see that is exciting is the neighborhood being reimagined,” Calderon said.

Housing-wise, four other projects are in the pipeline.

The highest profile project on the books is a collection of eight buildings — many rising on stilts — designed by Danish star architect Bjarke Ingles for developer Robert Wennett. The project, at Northwest 12th Avenue, called Miami Produce Centerwill include residential units, hotel, office, retail space and a trade school on nine acres formerly home to a produce market. Permits have not yet been drawn, and the timetable is not yet set, said Javier Aviñó, Wennett’s representative for the project and Bilzin Sumberg partner.

Already underway is a senior affordable housing community at 1396 NW 36th St. The 13-story Mosaico should open by January 2022, said Jake Morrow, a principal at developer Interurban.

Along with No. 17 Residences, Neology is planning another 14-story rental nearby at 1625 NW 20th St., dubbed Allapattah 16.

Also in permitting is a third 14-story rental building, Allapattah 14, at 1470 NW 36th St.

For Burgos-Flores, whose work entails helping local mom and pops thrive, taking the foot off the accelerator just a bit seems wise.

“We love all this development that could potentially happen in the area, but we want it to be inclusive and equitable,” she said.

Small businesses she helps in the neighborhood are frequently priced out by rising rents, she said. The average resident is unlikely to be able to afford the luxury units coming up in the area. The median household income in the 33127 zip code is $34,510, according to the county demographic data from this year. Around 31% of the residents live below the poverty line. Displacing a community of people – many of whom first arrived via displacement after refugee crises in their home countries – would shred the neighborhood’s identity, Burgos-Flores said.

“People who live here want to stay,” she said. “And if they go, they want to go because they want to, not because they’re pushed out. They want to have the opportunity to stay and the opportunity to own here.”

 

Source:  Miami Herald

1 Comment

Miami Board Votes To Repeal Special Area Plans

Special Area Plans have enabled developers to build massive projects in the city of Miami like Brickell City Centre, River Landing Shops and Residences, Mana Wynwood, the Miami Produce Center (pictured above), and Magic City Innovation District.

SAPs have also antagonized neighborhood activists who fear that such massive developments destroy the character of low-rise neighborhoods and speed up the displacement of individuals and families who can’t afford the skyrocketing rents or property taxes.

Now, the Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board is recommending that no other SAPs be approved.

By a vote of 6 to 3 on Wednesday, the board approved a resolution to repeal the Special Area Plan provision that enables property owners who assemble more than 9 acres of land to seek extensive zoning changes.

Such a repeal still needs to be approved, twice, by the Miami City Commission, which is embarking on its own review of the entire Miami 21 zoning code, including SAPs.

Planning board member Adam Gersten cast one of the dissenting votes, saying he feared that commissioners may simply ignore a recommendation to repeal, and advocated for a moratorium on SAPs instead. As part of that moratorium, the board could recommend reforms, including that the SAP causes no net loss of affordable housing in the surrounding area, Gersten suggested.

Chris Collins, another dissenting voter, agreed. “I think it would be more proactive and go a longer way if we specify what we want to change and how to change it,” Collins said.

But board member Alex Dominguez said that while the city tries to “workshop this thing to death,” more people are being displaced by legislation that encourages land speculation.

“If you do a moratorium… it’s like putting lipstick on a pig, and at the end of the day, it’s still a pig,” Dominguez said.

He also argued that many real estate developers “don’t even want to touch SAPs” because of the community opposition they tend to attract.

“It’s not a big deal to repeal SAPs from Miami 21,” Dominguez said, adding that “keeping it alive and tweaking it is affecting a hell of a lot more people negatively rather than positively.”

Neisen Kasdin, a land use attorney affiliated with Akerman, rose in defense of SAPS, arguing that the legislation has enabled “good” projects like the expansion of Ransom Everglades private school in Coconut Grove and the ongoing construction of an EmpathiCare Village for Alzheimer’s patients at Miami Jewish Health Systems in Buena Vista. SAP developers must also offer “community benefit agreements” in exchange for approval, Kasdin added.

“If you pass this legislation, you are not just throwing the baby out with the bath water, you are throwing out the baby,” Kasdin said.

But Marleine Bastien, executive director of Family Action Network Movement (FANM), said one of Kasdin’s clients, Magic City Innovation District, is an example of a “bad SAP” that has already indirectly led to the displacement of several residents and small businesses. That project, which was approved by the city commission last June, is being challenged in court by Warren Perry, a Little Haiti resident affiliated with FANM. One of the project’s initial investors, Robert Zangrillo, is also fighting charges from the U.S. Attorney’s Office related to the college admission fraud scandal, as well as charges from the Federal Trade Commission that he co-owned fraudulent websites.

Leonie Hermantin, a board member of Concerned Leaders of Little Haiti, said that although her organization supported the Magic City Innovation District, the group is also in favor of repealing the SAP provision.

“We know that the impact of multiple SAPs in our community will be detrimental,” Hermantin told the board. “I agree with Mr. Kasdin. There are good SAPs and there are bad SAPs. The problem is, unfortunately, that bad SAPs have been allowed to go through.”

The board has kept one controversial SAP in limbo: Eastside Ridge, a proposed 5.4 million-square-foot project that will be built less than a mile from the 8.2-million-square foot Magic City Innovation District and across the street from Miami Jewish Health. The planning board has continued the project five times, with members demanding improvements. In response, SPV Realty, Eastside Ridge’s developers, filed a lawsuit demanding that the board make a decision on the project — either recommending for or against it — so that it can be heard by the Miami City Commission.

Board member Anthony Parrish said Eastside Ridge helped make up his mind on whether or not to support repealing SAPs.

“One attorney of a major project said, ‘Just deny us. We just want to get to the commission,’” Parrish said. “That is what provided, at least for this member of the board, a need to repeal this.”

 

Source:  The Real Deal

No Comments

Miami May Be Closer To Banning Special Area Plans

In Miami, property owners who control more than 9 acres of land can apply for a wide array of zoning changes. They’re called Special Area Plans, or SAPs, and the legislation has allowed for massive, planned projects like Brickell City Centre, River Landing Shops & Residences, the redevelopment of the Miami Design District, and the expansion of the Miami Jewish Home. It has also allowed for future mega-projects like the Magic City Innovation District in Little Haiti, Miami Produce Center in Allapattah, and Mana Wynwood.

On Jan. 15, the city of Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board will discuss proposed legislation that could do away with SAPs altogether.

The board voted Wednesday to discuss a rule at its Jan. 15 meeting that would recommend that the city remove SAPs from the Miami 21 zoning code. In the 8 to 1 vote, board member Chris Collins was the lone dissenter.

The ultimate decision on whether to keep SAPs rests with the Miami City Commission. But even if the resolution isn’t approved, board members hope that it will tell elected leaders that SAPs are not beneficial to Miami’s existing neighborhoods and residents.

“I don’t want to send them a weak message,” said the resolution’s proposer, board member Alex Dominguez. “Either get rid of the damn thing … or let us move on.”

Several residents and community activists said SAPs are threatening neighborhoods, clogging roads with additional traffic, and speeding up gentrification. At the very least, community activists want a moratorium on future SAPs until regulations are put in place that govern development and require that affordable housing be offered in exchange for zoning.

“When I sell my home, I will have to leave because I will not be able to afford to live here,” said Jordan Levin, who lives in a house in Buena Vista East that she bought 20 years ago. “Please put a moratorium on these things. They’re the Godzillas of development. Development should not just be for the developers. Development should be for the city.”

Sue Trone, the city’s chief of community planning, argued that SAPs can help parts of Miami move away from the “segregated” uses advocated in the city’s 1959 comprehensive plan into a more mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly environment. And while reforms are needed, Trone argued that SAPs can “do a lot of good for the city.” Land use attorney Neisen Kasdin also begged the board not to “throw the baby out with the bath water” and to instead pursue reforms.

Dominguez, though, said it was best if the city rid itself of SAPs as soon as possible.

“Time is our biggest enemy. The more time we spend kicking things down the road and having meetings, the more developers are going to develop [SAPs] and we’ll have more traffic and we’ll see more people getting displaced,” he said.

Board member Melody Torrens said stopping future SAPs is “starting to make a lot of sense.” Still, she said the commission might not accept the idea, and while reforms are being debated, developers will continue to push SAPs. “If we’re not going to stop them completely, then we definitely need a moratorium while we go through [the legislation],” Torrens said.

Board chairman Charles Garavaglia agreed with Dominguez that passing a rule ending SAPs would make a stronger impact with politicians.

“I just think we should stop SAPs and send that message,” Garavaglia said, “and, ultimately, the commission will do what they want.”

 

Source:  The Real Deal

© 2023 FIP Commercial. All rights reserved. | Site Designed by CRE-sources, Inc.