The planned Centro Lofts tower may well set a new template for residential development in Miamis downtown core: compact units, 10-foot ceilings, interiors by top-drawer celebrity designer Yves Behar, a signature restaurant and rooftop pool, and a two-story private lounge.
But no parking garage.
In its stead: a valet, a five-spot Car2Go auto-share hub, covered bicycle parking and, possibly, also a station for Miamis upcoming bike-share program. Residents who need parking can get a spot at a nearby city garage.
If you think this sort of thing wont fly in auto-centric Miami, guess again. Half of Centros 352 units are sold even though the building hasnt broken ground. Prices start at $220,000 and top out in the mid-$400,000s.
These types of projects are really the wave of the future, said Oscar Rodriguez, senior vice president for the developer of Centro Lofts, Newgard Development Group.
That Centro Lofts is news and to judge from comments posted on some local real-estate blogs even slightly controversial may be no more than a symptom of Miamis slavish dependency on cars and parking. Other cities have long been putting up residential buildings without parking with little fuss, as did Miami before the advent of the auto age.
But planners and developers say there is something new and different going on here.
In Miami as elsewhere across the country, walkable urbanism is undergoing a renaissance as young people flock downtown to live and work. Driving and car ownership, in particular among those aforementioned young, are markedly down. The New York Times provoked a national buzz last month with an article suggesting that the appeal of Americas car culture has dimmed for many.
Thats hardly to suggest that automobiles are going the way of the Brontosaurus, these planners and developers say. But it turns out there are enough new urbanites who dont need or want a car for everyday use to create a growing market for buildings like Centro Lofts.
Eschewing garages conveys some significant advantages, including significantly reduced construction costs, and thus lower prices and maintenance fees for buyers. It also means livelier streets and increased foot traffic to benefit local shops, they say.
Its a sea change, said Cesar Garcia-Pons, planning director at the Downtown Development Authority. The current generation is much less interested in owning and paying for a car than living in a great place. The kicker is going to be the impact of not having parking.
Centro isnt the first new tower downtown to forgo a garage, something made possible by zoning rules that exempt residential buildings that sit within 1,000 feet of transit stations in high-density zoning districts from minimum parking requirements, said Iris Escarra, an attorney at Greenberg Traurig who handled the projects permitting. That covers virtually all of downtown given its proliferation of Metrorail and MetroMover stations.
The buildings really trying to get you to use other transportation, Escarra said. I can only call it the New York feel.
The successful if basic, garage-less Loft 1 and Loft 2 buildings the latter is the tower that straddles the elevated MetroMover tracks near Miami Dade Colleges downtown campus were developed by the Related Group during the previous condo boom. A handful of historic office buildings that never had parking in the first place were converted into affordable housing around the same time, including the Royalton, a 1920s boomtime hotel next to the Centro site that had long been vacant.