The redevelopment plan for Design Place Apartments in Little Haiti cleared its first governmental hurdle, but with several caveats, including a design charrette that will allow neighborhood residents to tweak the proposed mixed-use site at 5045 Northeast Second Avenue.
Miami’s Urban Development Review Board voted 5-0 on Wednesday to recommend approval of the property owner’s special area plan, or SAP, for what will be called Eastridge. In addition to the design charrette, developer SPV Realty agreed to shift the location of a proposed Tri-Rail train station, create more connectivity between a paseo and the development’s streets and increasing the size of a planned park, among other conditions.
Ric Katz, a representative of SPV, told the board that his client is determined to work with Little Haiti stakeholders. “There is never enough public engagement,” Katz said. “The owner is committed to the sound, flavor and feel of Little Haiti.”
The board gave Eastridge the green light despite pleas from Little Haiti residents, business owners and activists to again delay its vote until the developer addressed concerns that the redevelopment will negatively impact Little Haiti’s low income population and historical significance. Board members had put off an initial vote in late December.
“There hasn’t been significant community outreach to make sure their voices are heard,” said neighborhood activist Adrian Madriz. “When we are talking about a level of change of this magnitude it is important the people be a part of that process.”
Francisco Herretes, chairman of the Downtown Little Haiti Stakeholders, said small business owners are concerned the retail aspect of SPV Realty’s plans would squeeze them out. “A considerable amount is focused in the center of the development,” he said. “We feel it will suck up all the business on Northeast Second Avenue and 54th Street.”
However, review board members believed the design charrette was a fair compromise between the developer’s interest in moving the special area plan forward and addressing residents’ concerns that they have not had any input. “You have this opportunity to be the designers,” board member Neil Hall told the audience. “You have the opportunity to voice your opinions.”
According to the SAP application, Eastridge would entail buildings varying in height from eight to 28 stories, 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. Plans also 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.
Project architect Kobi Karp told the review board that Eastridge would be built in phases beginning with a hotel, a residential building and the park.