Miami Beach looks at town center proposal for North Beach

Revitalizing 71st Street and Collins Avenue seen as key to improving neighborhood

Feb.February 15, 2016 12:00 PM

Up-zoning and increasing density along a faded commercial stretch of 71st Street could be the key to turning around Miami Beach’s North Beach, according to a new report from Goodkin Consulting.

North Beach, which stretches from 63rd Street to 87th Street and westward from the ocean to the bay, is the focus of a week-long design charrette being conducted by town planning firm Dover Kohl & Partners, which has been selected by the city of Miami Beach to produce a master plan for North Beach.

Compared to South Beach and Mid-Beach, the area is largely underdeveloped. Participants at the charrette say turning 71st Street into a pedestrian and bike-friendly neighborhood with retail and restaurants in mixed-use buildings opening out to tree-lined streets would attract the two key demographic groups that they say could benefit the area: young people and baby boomers. They are groups that planners say have revitalized blighted neighborhoods around the country in recent years.

Jack Winston a principle with Goodkin Consulting, which prepared an economic analysis study for the charette, said Generation Y millennials, (ages 25-34), and early Generation Xers (ages 35-44) as well as baby boomers and seniors (ages 65-75) want to live near local amenities. “What we are proposing is not only to live there but live right on top so we have mixed-use buildings with perhaps office or retail on ground level but everything above that is residential,” he told The Real Deal.

To accomplish that Winston said the city should consider increasing height restrictions along 71st Street from seven stories or 75 feet to a “suggested height” of 12 stories, or 125 feet, and increasing the floor area ratio from the current 2.75 to 3.5.

Last year, Miami Beach voters rejected a FAR increase for the Ocean Terrace historic district between 73rd Street and 75th Street. Since a charter amendment was passed in 1997, voter approval has been required for up-zoning changes involving a FAR increase in areas facing the water. The amendment was strengthened in 2001 to include inland areas as well.

Winston said that while there could be opposition to increasing height and FAR restrictions along 71st Street, one solution could be using Transfer of Development Rights or TDRs to increase height limits and density for areas in a proposed Town Center. TDRs allow owners of designated historic properties to sell unused development rights to another property.

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