Miami developers could see density bonuses for affordable and workforce housing

Downtown Miami (Credit Azeez Bakare Studios)
Downtown Miami (Credit Azeez Bakare Studios)

The city of Miami is one step closer to rewarding developers who build moderate to low-income housing.

On Thursday, the city commission voted 5-0 on first reading for a measure that would grant builders density bonuses for setting aside a number of units as workforce and affordable housing.

Alberto Milo Jr.

Albert Milo

For example, the city’s current zoning code allows a maximum density of 36 dwelling units per acre for projects designated low-density multifamily residential. If a developer submits a project that sets aside 10 percent of the units for workforce, affordable and extremely low-income housing, the city would increase the maximum density from 36 units per acre to 72 dwelling units per acre. If the developer sets aside 5 percent, the maximum density would increase to 54 units per acre.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Albert Milo, principal and vice president of Related Urban Development Group, hailed the decision as a positive step to addressing a longtime problem for developers that are unable to provide low to moderate income units due to high land and construction costs.

“While we have traditional sources of funding for affordable housing, the biggest need is for workforce housing,” Milo said. “This allows you to promote mixed-income developments. A portion will be affordable units and a portion will be workforce units.”

According to city documents, the goal is to set aside 40 percent of the housing stock built in the next five years as mixed-income units. Medium density multifamily residential projects that meet the 10 percent threshold would have their the maximum density allowed increased from 65 units per acre to 130 units per acre. And high density multifamily residential projects would go from a maximum of 150 units per acre to 300 units per acre.

High density projects are allowed in Little Havana, along the Miami River, Brickell, Omni (now the Arts & Entertainment District) and Park West.

Last month, Miami-Dade commissioner Barbara Jordan’s plan fell apart when commissioners rejected her proposal to mandate workforce housing in all new residential projects. Jordan agreed to revise it to a voluntary system.