A 68-year-old, two-story apartment complex in Miami’s Little Haiti could be transformed with a zoning proposal allowing towers as tall as 28 stories and up to 5.42 million square feet of development.
SPV Realty, managed by Sharon Olson in New York, hired Kobi Karp Architecture to craft a redevelopment plan for its 22.5-acre site at 5045 N.E. 2nd Ave. It currently has the walled-in Design Place Apartments totaling 515 units. The company wants to rezone it using a special area plan (SAP) titled Eastside Ridge that would increase its density and height in addition to allowing commercial uses.
On Dec. 21, the city’s Urban Design Review Committee will consider the SPV Realty’s SAP and site plan, with a maximum development potential of 2,798 apartments, 418 hotel rooms, 283,798 square feet of commercial/retail space, 97,103 square feet of office space and 4,636 parking spaces. Building heights would range from eight to 28 stories — higher than other buildings in Little Haiti.
North of downtown Miami and west of Biscayne Boulevard, the Little Haiti neighborhood has been overlooked by developers for years. Its median household income of $27,457 in 2013 was below county-wide income levels, according to U.S. Census data.
However, increasing prices in booming neighborhoods to the south such as Wynwood and the Design District have prompted some businesses and residents to move to Little Haiti. Tony Cho and Dragon Global recently announced plans to redevelop 15 acres at the corner of Northeast 62nd street and Northeast 4th Avenue as Magic City with a mix of entertainment, residential and commercial uses. They have yet to announce development density on that site.
Kobi Karp said SPV Realty hired him a few years ago to develop a plan to make its apartment complex better for its residents and the community. He said the owner would work to keep residents on the property as it’s redeveloped. These apartments would be for everyday working people, Karp said.
“The owner has been here for decades and doesn’t have enough apartments,” Karp said. “They said, ‘I am full and these buildings are falling apart so why don’t I built more?’”
Karp said Eastside Ridge would better integrate the property with the community, including the Jewish Health facility on its west side, where another redevelopment plan is proposed, and Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School to the south. New internal streets and green spaces would invite the public onto the property.
There would be pocket parks on every corner, a park along Northeast 2nd Avenue and a central ovular park. He also envisioned an outdoor green market operating there on the weekends. Karp said the project was designed around the existing trees on the property.
“We wanted to maintain openness and green tree canopies of the site,” Karp said. “Towards Northeast 2nd Street, we present a plaza and green space so if people feel like they want to walk through our site, they can.”
In case passenger rail is ever extended on the FEC line running along the east side of the property, the site plan calls for a station there. The SAP would allow for a parking reduction of 30 to 50 percent should a train station be placed on the property.
The East Ridge SAP site plan shows 16 buildings, ranging from eight stories closer the the streets, to four buildings of 28 stories each around the park in the center of the property. Each building would have ground-floor retail and two would contain hotels. The office space would be combined with retail and apartments in the same buildings. Each building would contain some parking, with some garages under ground. The buildings would have green roofs with native vegetation and the parking structures would be topped by amenity decks.
Similar projects have been developed and proposed in parts of Miami-Dade County, such as in downtown Miami, Brickell and Aventura, but there’s nothing of this scale and design currently in Little Haiti. Karp pointed out that when he opened his office near Midtown Miami in 2004, that area had only mid-rise buildings and now it’s booming with large-scale development.
“The density that has existed there (the Design Place Apartments) for the past 80 years for it to keep with the new zoning code with the new parking and to introduce the retail and the offices there, the height is necessary, especially if you want to preserve and increase the green spaces,” Karp said.
The site plan calls for 6.8 acres of open space, more than triple what’s currently permitted under the present zoning. Karp said he created that open space by increasing the heights of the buildings so they have a smaller footprint at the ground level.
“The buildings could be shorter but then there would be less green space and open space,” Karp said.
If the Eastside Ridge SAP is approved by the UDRB, it would still need to pass the city’s Planning Board and commission. Kimley Horn is the planning firm on the project and Edward Martos is the developer’s attorney.