The Real Deal Miami

Planning board supports creation of developer-friendly district

By Erik Bojnansky | October 17, 2008 05:49PM

Miami’s Planning Advisory Board unanimously backed the creation of a Miami Worldcenter “special” district that will encourage intensive, mixed-use development in one of the city’s blighted neighborhoods, during a meeting on October 15.

Proposed by City Manager Pedro Hernandez and championed by Mayor Manny Diaz, 80 percent of the land that is to be within the Miami Worldcenter district, which is located within the Southeast Overtown-Park West redevelopment district, is “controlled” by Miami Worldcenter LLC, which is headed by Palm Beach developers Art Falcone and Marc Roberts.  

Miami Worldcenter LLC plans to transform the area — mainly consisting of warehouses, vacant lots and old empty storefronts — into a 24-hour “mini-city” with new roads, retail, hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, urban plazas and parks. According to the Miami Herald, Miami Worldcenter LLC has already invested $100 million in the endeavor.

The proposed district would allow for the construction of a 975,000-square-foot hotel, residential buildings with 800 units and a two-million-square-foot conference center hotel with retail and office, without having to obtain a major use permit. The ordinance, if approved by the Miami City Commission, will also award generous density bonuses for the creation of parks, the development of low carbon dioxide emission buildings and contributions to the city’s affordable housing fund.  

Nitin Motwani, Miami Worldcenter LLC’s managing director, said his company has access to enough land to embark on their mega-project.  

“We’ve had conversations with some of the property owners of parcels we don’t control,” he said. But with the economy in turmoil, future land purchases are “difficult to plan right now.”
 
The Miami City Commission is scheduled to hold hearings on the Miami Worldcenter district October 23 and November 13.