More office and co-living development could be headed to this Miami Beach street

Height bonus among measures city officials are considering to continue attracting developers to Art Deco Historic District

550 Washington Avenue and 1235 Washington Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)
550 Washington Avenue and 1235 Washington Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Having already found success luring new hotel and retail development on Washington Avenue, Miami Beach city officials are now considering new incentives to attract developers of co-living apartments and offices.

The measures include height bonuses of up to 75 feet, an increase in a project’s floor area ratio (FAR) of .5, and eliminating off-street parking requirements and sidewalk cafe concurrency fees. The FAR increase would require citywide voter approval, but the other two proposals can be adopted by the city commission.

During the city’s land use committee meeting last week, Big Time Productions founder Eugene Rodriguez told city commissioners John Elizabeth Aleman, Ricky Arriola, Michael Gongora and Joy Malakoff that allowing increases to the FAR of older buildings like the Paris Theater at 550 Washington Avenue, which he owns, and the theater-turned-nightclub-space at 1235 Washington Avenue, would spur redevelopment of such properties into hotels or office buildings.

“Buildings like the Paris Theater already have a 40-to-50-foot ceiling height, which is grand, but you can’t fit anything on top of it,” Rodriguez said. “They are just sitting there. They are gorgeous buildings…that would be grand lobbies of an office building or a hotel.”

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Rodriguez said he holds small events at the Paris Theater, but that the building has no real use, he said. “I love this building,” he said. “I just don’t know what to do with it.”

Miami Beach Planning Director Thomas Mooney said he is working on ballot language proposed by Malakoff to increase the FAR on Washington Avenue. He said the city commission would have first reading on the ballot question by July, along with the proposed ordinances for the height bonus and the elimination of the parking requirements and sidewalk fees. City officials believe adding co-living apartments and office buildings will attract more daytime users to Washington Avenue.

Last year, Property Markets Group opened the 464-unit X Miami, one of the first co-living apartment buildings in the South Florida market. Developer Robert Wennett’s Miami Produce Center  mixed-use project in Allapattah could have as many as 2,400 co-living units, which are apartments in which tenants are paired up with roommates.

Since the city approved measures designed to increase hotel uses and expand retail and dining opportunities on Washington Avenue, investors and developers have been buying up sites and launching projects. Recently, commercial real estate firm KLNB picked up a CVS-anchored building at 938 Washington Avenue for $18.3 million, paying $1,470 a square foot. Across the street, Lightstone Group’s 202-key hotel is under construction at 915 Washington Avenue. And three blocks south, adjacent to the Paris Theater, Imperial’s Michael Fascitelli and Eric Birnbaum are building a seven-story, 300-key hotel at 601 to 685 Washington Avenue.