The Real Deal Miami

Postponed: rezoning to allow for Design District expansion

Craig Robins wants to rezone 0.66 acres to allow for more Design District parking
By Erik Bojnansky | July 02, 2015 09:45AM

Miami Design District (Credit: Marc Averette)

A request to rezone residential land in Buena Vista in order to provide parking for the expanding Miami Design District was postponed indefinitely by Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board on Wednesday night.

The reason: Miami Design District developer Craig Robins and his main lawyers were out of town and couldn’t argue their case before the planning board that night as scheduled.

That thoroughly annoyed two Buena Vista Heights residents who were ready to argue against Robins’ proposed zoning changes for 0.66 acres of land at 29 Northwest 42nd Street and 30 Northwest 44th Street.

“This is their third deferral request,” said Lorena Ramos of the Buena Vista Stakeholders Association. “This is disrespectful. I assume the community would have liked to have been out of town at this point.”

Akerman LLP attorney Marissa Amuial insisted her team wasn’t ready to proceed that night, but they still wanted to move forward with Robins’ application. “We want the opportunity to talk to all the stakeholders … and come back in October,” Amuial said, “so we can have a meaningful dialogue.”

Ulysee Kemp, president of the Buena Vista Heights Neighborhood Association, told the board that Robins and his representatives recently met with Buena Vista Heights residents and the session “didn’t go so well. They’re going to encroach into our residential area,” Kemp told The Real Deal.

In a January 16 letter to city of Miami Planning Director Francisco Garcia, Akerman attorney Steven Wernick said the zoning change from T3-L to T4-L was needed to build “structured parking” that would serve the demands caused by the “ongoing growth and development” of the Design District and protect Buena Vista Heights residential neighborhood.

“The Applicant [Robins] believes that … such a project would be beneficial to the adjacent residential neighborhood, as it will discourage visitors to the Design District from parking in local residential streets,” Wernick wrote.

Christopher Brimo, chief of land development for the city’s Planning and Zoning Department, disagreed. In his memo to the board, Wernick argued that Robins’ requested zoning change was “more reflective of the intrusion of intensely commercial development into the neighborhood, rather than as a protective measure to buffer the established residential neighborhood from the more intense development of the Design District.” As such, Brimo recommended against granting the zoning change.

Planning board member Juvenal Pina said he was tired of constantly rescheduling the item. “It’s just dragging along,” he said. Rather than rescheduling for October 7, as Robins’ legal team sought, Pina suggested that the item be continued indefinitely.

“[Robins] can re-advertise and pay for the advertisement,” Pina said.