Miami Beach may create incentives for affordable housing developers

City to consider passing legislation that fast tracks permitting for affordable housing projects and waives developer fees

Miami /
Nov.November 25, 2020 01:30 PM
The Allen Apartments  with Mark Samuelian, Michael Gongora and Ricky Arriola (Miami Beach Community Development Corp., Wikipedia Commons)

The Allen Apartments with Mark Samuelian, Michael Gongora and Ricky Arriola (Miami Beach Community Development Corp., Wikipedia Commons)

Miami Beach’s success in attracting luxury developments means there’s little to no room for affordable housing developers to build projects. But the city commission’s land use committee is hoping to solve that problem.

Committee members Mark Samuelian, Michael Gongora and Ricky Arriola, who are also commissioners, on Tuesday directed Miami Beach planning director Thomas Mooney to draft ordinances that would entice affordable housing developers to build in the city.

“As we know, the city is not building any significant affordable housing and hasn’t in quite some time,” Gongora said at the committee meeting. “The price of our land is very expensive and it is hard to get people interested in building new affordable housing.”

The most recent affordable housing project completed in Miami Beach was in 2018, when the 21-unit Leonard Turkel Residences at 234 Jefferson Avenue opened. The apartment building is among five affordable housing projects owned and operated by the Housing Authority of Miami Beach. The Miami Beach Community Development Corp. manages another 323 units scattered among 12 historic buildings in the city.

Still, that’s not enough affordable housing stock in a city where the typical home value is $364,074, according to Zillow. The average rent in Miami Beach is $2,018, and the average apartment size is 917 square feet, according to RentCafe. Roughly 55 percent of Miami beach households are renter occupied. Every year, the city opens its waiting list for affordable housing that often attracts thousands of applicants, whose household incomes must be no less than $8,868 and no more than $47,450. New renters are chosen through a lottery system.

Gongora proposed the city pass legislation that would fast track affordable housing projects through the building permit process and waive land use and other fees associated with new developments, which drew praise from his colleague, Samuelian.

“We have talked a lot about affordable housing and how to make sure it happens,” Samuelian said. “This is a movement in the right direction.”

But Arriola cautioned his colleagues that affordable housing usually requires developers to build high density projects, which are often met with stiff opposition from local residents. “If we want affordable housing, we will have to allow more,” Arriola said. “Otherwise we are kidding ourselves and the public. We have to be comfortable building more.”

The committee voted to direct Mooney to draft proposed ordinances and present them at the land use meeting in January.


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