City rezoned their neighboring property, and now Miami River homeowners are getting the same treatment

Request came after developer wins right to build apartment building on lots previously zoned for houses

(Credit: Google Maps and iStock)
(Credit: Google Maps and iStock)

Residents of Miami’s Oak Park neighborhood weren’t happy when real estate developer Antonio Pardo sought a zoning change that would enable him to build a four-story apartment building on lots along the Miami River previously zoned for single-family homes.

But now that the zoning change is a done deal, 16 single-family lot owners on or near Northwest South River Drive have demanded similar zoning changes for their properties.

And, so far, the city of Miami is obliging them, so long as they agree to deed 20 feet of riverfront for a public riverwalk should the houses ever be replaced with apartment buildings.

On June 5, by a vote of 5 to 2, the Miami Planning, Zoning & Appeals Board backed a recommendation to change the zoning from T3-L and T3-R, which primarily allows only single-family houses, to T4-R, allowing four-story apartment buildings with up to 176 units per acre. Owners of T4-R zoned land can also seek permission from the city to build childcare facilities, marinas, and bed & breakfasts.

The 16 non-contiguous lots total 4.9 acres. Of those 16 lots, 13 of them have houses that were built between 1924 and 1990, according to the planning department’s report.

The zoning change still has to be ratified by the Miami City Commission.

Adam Gettinger, who has owned a home at 1611 Northwest South River Drive for ten years, said he has no immediate plans to sell but that he and his neighbors feel they are entitled to the same development rights and higher property values as Pardo and other developers in the area.

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On the south side of the river, a partnership that includes developer Avra Jain is planning a $200 million mixed-use project with a Sixty Hotel.

“We said, ‘don’t leave us as a house with the city growing up all around us,’” Gettinger said. “We see it everywhere. [There’s a] 27-story building 150 feet from my house that’s going up right now.”

On the other side of the river is the 2-million-square-foot River Landing Shops & Residences project that’s under construction. Marlins Park is within half a mile of the homes.

About two years ago, the Miami City Commission backed Pardo’s request to rezone his properties at 1515 Northwest South River Drive, which he bought in 2014 for $4 million. It was also supported by the Miami River Commission in October 2017, provided that the property owners deed land for a public riverwalk.

At the time, nearby residents feared that the project would create more traffic and parking headaches, but now, Gettinger explained, they just want the same rights as developers.

“There’s no plan for developing or anything else,” he insisted. “We just don’t want to be stuck.”