Sweetwater adjusts development rules for FIU area

Sweetwater has tentatively approved an ordinance setting building and aesthetic rules for part of town that borders Florida International University.

The City Commission on Dec. 2 gave the thumbs up on an ordinance revising the city’s existing university city zoning district.

Mayor Jose Diaz said there are major plans for the area.

“A lot of buildings for students will be built,” he said. “There will be places for students like coffee shops to study. There will be Wi-Fi connections, but at the same time we are thinking to build municipal parking, and it will accommodate people visiting the city.”

The university district includes the area between 107th and 109th avenues and between Sixth and Seventh streets, with a small portion that will possibly go farther north, up to Fourth Street, Diaz said.

FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus is between Southwest 107th Avenue and Florida’s Turnpike, south of Eighth Street, just outside Sweetwater’s city limits.

If approved on second reading, the ordinance would set the maxim height of any building within the area to 15 stories. Also, the maximum density for residential would be 105 units per acre, or 210 for student housing.

It also specifies aesthetic rules and outdoor dining requirements, among others.

The 109 Tower, a 15-story student private dorm with roughly 180 residential units plus first-floor retail, is now under construction on Southwest Seventh Terrace and 109th Avenue. Plans are for the building to be completed sometime in the spring.

Nearby, Diaz said there are also plans for another building on Southwest Fourth Street and 109th Avenue. The groundbreaking could be next month.

With the additions of buildings, Diaz said the city is asking for developers to chip in for street and landscape modifications.

“That prototype of development will be part of the buildings,” he said. “There are many developers that want to build. We are requesting for them to improve the sidewalks, pavers, structures that will enhance the community.”

He said the additions will bring the city to another level.

“109th Avenue will be beautiful,” said Diaz. “We want to expand all the way to Flagler.”