As urban planners iron out a final plan to spark development in the northern section of Miami Beach, the City Commission voted on a few key changes that have been recommended.
At Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners gave initial approval to increasing height for developments along 71st Street and creating a zone where short-term rentals are regulated to encourage hotel-like uses. The process for developing historic districts began, and the commission voted to impose a six-month moratorium on demolition of historic structures while those districts are created.
The height change would increase height limits for a zone around 71st Street from 75 feet to 125 feet, which would allow for 12-story buildings in an area intended to be North Beach’s “town center.” The first four floors would have to be set back at least 10 feet from the property line, and for floors above that, a minimum of 25 feet — a suggestion made by planners to maintain a low-scale experience from the street while providing developers an incentive to build.
Commissioners Micky Steinberg and Kristen Rosen Gonzalez voted against the measure. Rosen Gonzalez said it was premature because the commission has not approved a final draft of the master plan, the guiding document for this neighborhood.
Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán noted the draft plan recommends allowing taller buildings in the town center along with creating a program where owners of historic properties can sell development rights to builders in town center who would need the additional square footage. Since it will take longer to create such a program, she said she wanted to start now on implementing measures that will take less time.
“I want to point out there’s a lot of steps to creating a [transfer-of-development-rights] program,” she said. “It’s going to require districting. It’s going to require a referendum.”
Commissioners also gave initial approval to allowing short-term rentals in historic buildings that front Harding Avenue. The city hopes to encourage the rehabilitation of these old structures by allowing property owners to rent units for a week at a time. Both preservationists and developers support the measure in hopes it will give owners a more lucrative option than long-term leases and therefore encourage them to invest in their aging properties.
A six-month moratorium on demolition of historic buildings got final approval, as well. At the same time, the city will start finalizing boundaries for two potential local historic districts. The matter will now go before the Historic Preservation Board in September.