Fall 2003 – City coaxed, developers came

New Ordinance Would Reduce Bonuses for Saturated Brickell

With nearly every parcel developed or under construction along Brickell Avenue between Miami River and the Rickenbacker Causeway, it’s hard to fathom that developers need any encouragement or incentive to break ground in this prized area.

That’s what BHA has been telling the City of Miami for the past two years since it began advocating for the removal of the density bonuses provided in an ordinance enacted two decades ago. With growing concerns about traffic, infrastructure and services to support the thousands of new residential units coming online, it seems logical to limit the density of new projects and not risk the quality of life for all of residential and commercial Brickell. The current ordinance provides means for developers to increase the size of their projects rather than limit them.

Currently developers are allowed to make “a nonrefundable developer contribution of $6.67 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund administered by the City of Miami” for an additional one square foot of allowable building space. Thus, bigger, more dense development.

The new ordinance raises the “contribution” to $12.40 per square foot and imposes minimum size restrictions on the sizes of units built: “one bedroom units shall be a minimum of 900 square feet in size; two bedroom units shall be a minimum of 1200 square feet in size, and 3 bedroom units shall be a minimum of 1500 square feet in size.”

In qualify for additional square footage, the new ordinance requires “an enhanced level of public benefit and amenities “in the form of publicly accessible open space and/or an enhanced design that ensures all required parking is screened from street view….”

BHA had passed its resolution in November 2001 asking the City to examine the current practice, and to perhaps offer the bonuses in areas where they are looking to spur development, as was once, a long time ago, the case with Brickell Avenue. The ordinance is scheduled to come before the City’s Planning Advisory Board in November and then before the full City Commission on November 25.

From BHA News, Fall 2003, Vol. XIII, No. 3