UPDATED March 27, 5 p.m: North Miami Beach planners on Thursday got their first look at a master plan for New North Town Center, slated to be built on a nearly 18-acre site on West Dixie Highway between 155th Street and 163rd Street.
The property, which is mostly vacant, has been lying idle for at least four or five years, according to Justin Proffitt, North Miami Beach’s planning and zoning director.
In the next few years, Bay Harbor-based architect Gabriel Boano and Aventura-based Hector Mendez, principals for developer New North Strategies, LLC, hope to transform this relatively desolate part of the city into a small-scale version of Downtown Dadeland, which is a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development in southwest suburban Miami-Dade County.
The developers plan to build 1,650 apartments; 175,000 square feet of commercial space, including anchors and small, in-line stores; 150,000 square feet of office space, 175 limited service hotel rooms and 120,000 square feet of school space. Zyscovich Architects is designing the project. In Downtown Dadeland, the Metrorail serves as a transportation hub. In North Miami Beach, the new development may revolve around a commuter train station at 163rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard if the Florida East Coast Railroad, which owns the track at the site, approves the commuter line.
New North Equities bought the bulk of the 18 acres for the project in January 2017 for $21 million. The land has been largely vacant for years, in part, because its former owner, People’s Gas, which still owns land on the east side of the street, left the site contaminated, according to Proffitt and Florencia Montecchiarini, project director for the development. At this point, it has been remediated as much as it can be. When the developers start construction, more work will be done to complete the remediation, Montecchiarini said.
Zoning was another issue that had to be addressed, said Proffitt. “In 2015, we analyzed existing zoning and entitlements and we reduced the amount of non-residential development allowed,” he said. North Miami Beach also increased the allowable residential density. and added new requirements for dedicated park space, landscaping, sidewalks and street furniture. “We made zoning reflect market conditions,” he said.
The first thing that the developers will do, once they get all their approvals, is build new infrastructure, Proffitt said. “They need to put in street trees, parking and they will probably contribute to the redesign of the 21-acre Taylor Park,” he said.