Faced with vehement neighborhood opposition, Miami’s Urban Development Review Board delayed taking action on an application by SPV Realty to transform a Little Haiti apartment complex into a large-scale, mixed-use development.
Residents and property owners living near Design Place Apartments at 5045 Northeast Second Avenue objected on Wednesday to SPV’s proposed special area plan to bring 2,798 residential units, 418 hotel rooms, 283,798 square feet of commercial/retail space, 97,103 square feet of office space, 295,343 square feet of open space, 4,636 parking spaces and 231 bike parking spaces to Little Haiti.
SPV, through its entity Eastridge LLC, would raze the existing apartment buildings and replace them with towers varying in height from eight to 28 stories. The project would include a farmer’s market, open green space, green facades and green roofs with public benefits of up to 25 percent of the total development, according to the proposed plan.
But faced with dozens of critics and lacking six of their colleagues, board members Neil Hall, Fidel Perez and Anthony Tzamtzis deferred their vote until the Urban Development Review Board’s January meeting.
“It is a massive, massive thing that I don’t think only the three of us should have privilege of responding to it,” Hall said. “We have nine members. The impact is far greater than the three of us to bear such a responsibility. I think it is appropriate for the other board members to weigh in on this project.”
Bob Powers, president of the Palm Grove Neighborhood Association, said SPV was presenting a plan that was different from the one he was shown four months ago. “I also echo the fact that you are not a full board and that it is the week before Christmas,” Powers said. “I would ask you to put it on the back burner to address these issues head on.”
Joanne Milord, executive director of the Northeast Second Avenue Partnership, a non-profit that promotes the preservation of Little Haiti, said the developer had not offered any public benefits to the community. “What is the ultimate impact this will have on our community?” Milord said. “It needs to be more about inclusion. I didn’t hear anything about community reinvestment other than the parks.”
Edward Martos, an attorney at Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman representing Eastridge, told the board his client is creating a plan that emphasizes environmentally friendly buildings, park space, civic areas, public transit and pedestrian passages. Martos noted Eastridge’s principals are in discussions with Tri-Rail officials about incorporating a station in the development should the train service expand its routes.
“We have reached out to the community quite a lot,” he said. “We’ve had meetings with different stakeholders.”
The 3.5 square mile area known as Little Haiti is just beginning to experience gentrification. Since 2014, real estate investors and trendy businesses have moved into the neighborhood including Wynwood’s Panther Coffee, which is opening a roaster, training facility and coffee shop in a converted warehouse on the corner of Northwest 59th Terrace and Second Avenue. Developer Tony Cho and tech entrepreneur Bob Zangrillo also recently launched plans for Magic City, a phased, $1 billion mixed-use development with studios, an innovation center, office space, retail space, workforce housing and potentially a boutique hotel.