Coral Gables

Coral Gables commission to consider big, mixed-use project near elementary school

A rendering of the 33 Alhambra project as viewed from Navarre Avenue.
A rendering of the 33 Alhambra project as viewed from Navarre Avenue. Bellin & Pratt Architects

The newly elected Coral Gables City Commission will consider the much-discussed and divisive 33 Alhambra project at Tuesday’s meeting.

The development, which the commission gave preliminary approval to last December, is made up of several plots on a stretch of land that intersects with Navarre and Minorca avenues, Galiano Street and Alhambra Circle. The project calls for a 146-unit structure with 210 parking spaces and about 2,000 square feet of retail that will go up to 97 feet high.

Nearby residents have gathered signatures in a petition against the project, saying the project is too massive, will create traffic problems and is out of character for the neighborhood.

“We’ve been at this thing for about three years now and we’re feeling at this point that we’re getting ignored,” said resident Rita Gross.

The project was set for approval back in January but after hearing from several residents at that commission meeting, the developers, TWJ Alhambra LLC, requested a continuance on the item.

The primary changes from that meeting include reducing the units from 184 to 146 and decreasing parking spaces from 249 to 210. The new proposal also includes a park with a garden that increases the project’s green space from about 8,100 square feet to about 17,200 square feet. The majority of the units will be one- and two-bedroom apartments.

33 Alhambra
A rendering of the 33 Alhambra project as viewed overhead from Alhambra Circle. Bellin & Pratt Architects

Some neighbors are also concerned about the additional traffic the project could bring to their nearby residential neighborhood. The project also is across the street from Coral Gables Elementary School, which is historically designated.

“Our quality of life here is excellent in the sense that traffic-wise, we don’t have the congestion that other parts of the central business district have,” Gross said.

Others have pointed out the work being done on a separate multi-story project with about 200 units, 100 Alhambra Circle, as a potential traffic problem for the neighborhood.

“As a young professional, I’m not an opponent of change; I’m a firm believer that the only thing that’s constant in life is change. However, with this kind of change we do need to strike a balance,” said resident Neha Dagley at the January meeting.

A study done by Kimley-Horn and Associates anticipates 58 new car trips during morning peak hours and 134 new trips during afternoon peak times. The firm also concluded that it doesn’t anticipate much traffic along Galiano, Minorca or Navarre—the streets that surround the school. The proposed entrance to 33 Alhambra is off Navarre.

Other speakers at the January meeting said that even if they have reservations about the project, they think it’s important to have affordable housing in the North Gables.

“I’m a little bit dismayed about the bulk of the building and how big it is but we have to have rental units for young people,” said Haydee Polo at the January meeting.

33 Alhambra 2
A rendering of the 33 Alhambra project as viewed overhead from Galiano Street. Bellin & Pratt Architects

Commissioners will be voting on three items: a land-use map amendment from residential multi-family density to commercial mid-rise intensity, a zoning code change from multi-family to commercial and a mixed-use site plan review.

The city’s planning department has recommended approval of the project with multiple conditions including a signage plan, bicycle amenities and the completion of traffic calming studies within one year. The developers also plan to preserve a historic building at 42 Navarre Ave.

The item will be heard 5 p.m. Tuesday at Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3