Miami Beach seeks buyers for city-owned development sites

City is listing five properties, but held off on an oceanfront library site that broker says could be worth $75M if rezoned

Miami /
Aug.August 03, 2021 02:35 PM
The current Miami Beach North Shore library with Mayor Dan Gelber (Google Maps, Gelber)

The current Miami Beach North Shore library with Mayor Dan Gelber (Google Maps, Gelber)

Miami Beach will be entertaining offers for five city-owned development sites, but it is holding off on listing the more valuable oceanfront site of North Shore library.

The Miami Beach City Commission last week opted to delay issuing requests for proposals for the lots making up the 1.37-acre library parcel at 7505 Collins Avenue, following push-back from several residents.

Commissioners insisted they just want to hear proposals while the real estate market is hot, as a way to find extra cash to construct a new library within the 72nd Street Community Complex between Collins and Harding avenues, to redevelop the city-owned Byron Carlyle Theater, and for various other city projects.

“Before people freak out, we are not going to sell anything. This is simply to get…some interest to see what is out there, what proposals we might get,” said Vice Mayor Ricky Arriola during the meeting. “The decision is way out in the future.”

Mayor Dan Gelber pointed out that 70 percent of voters approved the construction of a new library at 72nd Street three years ago when they voted for a $53.8 million bond issue. Once a new library is built, an empty 45-year-old library building and four surface parking lots will remain. “At some point we are going to have to decide what to do [with the building],” Gelber said.

Commissioner David Richardson said he wouldn’t be in favor of selling the three city-owned parking lots just west of the beach, preferring to convert them into a future “greenway.” Nevertheless, Richardson said the city “should look at selling the library lot and adjacent parking lot” if there is “a great offer for us.”

In a May report to the city of Miami Beach, CBRE stated that the library and a parking lot along Collins Avenue would be worth $10 million if they were rezoned from government use to CD-2 commercial medium intensity. A CD-2 zoning allows apartments, hotels, religious institutions, apartment hotels, and alcoholic beverage establishments that seat less than 199 people, with a height limit of 50 feet and a future floor area ratio category of 1.5. Under Miami Beach zoning law, FAR is used to help calculate development density. The higher the FAR, the more massive the building a developer can construct.

However, all five library properties would be worth $75 million if the three eastern lots were thrown into the deal as well, and if those lots were re-zoned MXE or mixed-use entertainment. An MXE zoning allows similar uses, although developers can often build up to 150 feet in height and the FAR is 2.0.

Under Miami Beach charter, the sale of city-owned waterfront land will have to be approved by a voter referendum. Likewise, any increase in FAR for any property in Miami Beach must also be approved by voters.

Although a vote on issuing an RFP for the possible sale of the North Shore library site was delayed until Sept. 17, the commission did approve listing four other city-owned properties by a vote of 6 to 1, with commissioner Michael Gongora dissenting.
They are:

  • A 15,313-square-foot parking lot west of North Shore Open Space Park and the Eighty Seven Park luxury condominium that remains empty due to foundational structural concerns following the collapse of Champlain Towers South. Cushman & Wakefield stated in an April report that the half-paved and half-unpaved parking lot is worth $4.6 million as-is.
  • A 13,132-square-foot vacant parcel at 6181 Pine Tree Drive, adjacent to the Indian Creek waterway and the 63rd Street causeway. CBRE stated in a May report that the property could be worth $3.4 million if rezoned to CD-2.
  • A 3,000-square-foot vacant parcel at Commerce Street and Jefferson Avenue that’s adjacent to a pair of one-story commercial buildings and just south of the Marea South Beach condominium complex. The property is worth $1.5 million as-is, according to an April appraisal by The Urban Group Real Estate Consultants.
  • An 8,200-square-foot lot by a Miami Beach pump station at 8100 Hawthorne Avenue. The Urban Group stated that this plot was worth $984,000 as of April, assuming that it can be “separated from the existing pump station use and is a buildable lot” and that the property is re-zoned to allow residential development.

The commission also gave City Manager Alina Hudak the authority to allow CBRE to list Barclay Plaza Apartments at 1940 Park Avenue, once the city is finished doing a structural assessment of the 66-unit, three-story building.

Constructed in 1935, the city purchased the affordable housing building for $5.46 million in 2015 from the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation. If the Barclay is sold “100 percent [of the proceeds] would be used for low-income and workforce housing somewhere in the city,” Commissioner Richardson said.






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