Swire’s residential plans for Brickell Key pass first reading

Brickell Key (Credit: Marc Averette)
Brickell Key (Credit: Marc Averette)

Miami city commissioners have endorsed a new ordinance that will allow Swire Properties to develop the last vacant parcel on Brickell Key as a residential property with up to 668 units.

The ordinance, which got its first reading at a commission hearing late Thursday, changes the floor area ratio (FAR) for the property at 750 Claughton Island Drive, also known as Brickell Key Drive, from commercial to residential use.

Under development regional impact (DRI) thresholds dating back to 1975, residential capacity was capped at 3,075 units for Brickell Key, the 40-acre island adjacent to Miami’s financial hub, Brickell Avenue. Under the new ordinance, Swire Properties will be able to develop 900,000 square feet as residential space, while also committing to develop 3.75 acres as a linear park in the form of a bay walk along Biscayne Bay.

Under the old DRI, any developer of the property would have been required to set aside 3.5 acres of open space for the public.

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One resident of Brickell Key objected to the proposed ordinance, saying the public had not been adequately notified about the proposed changes, but commissioners said they would hear further public comment at a second reading of the ordinance later this month.

Swire’s attorney, Lucia Dougherty of Greenberg Traurig, told commissioners the new ordinance will allow for 85 units per acre on Brickell Key, far below what she said is allowed just across the short bridge linking Brickell Key with Brickell Avenue, where 500 residential units per acre are allowed, or just to the north in downtown Miami – where she said 1,000 units per acre can be built under Miami’s current zoning regulations.

Dougherty said the new ordinance, shifting the property’s FAR from commercial to residential, “is a much better use for the island, that will have less impact” on residents who live there. Current sales prices on Brickell Key have reportedly been as high as $700 per square foot for some residential properties.

The area is also at the epicenter of Miami’s booming commercial and residential real estate market, where Swire Properties is the lead developer of Brickell City Centre, a $1.05 billion mixed-use development that is expected to have 5.4 million square feet of space, including a shopping center, two residential towers, a hotel and two-mid rise office towers.