River Cities

Miami Springs approves four hotels, sparking residents’ concerns

Hotels are being developed off Northwest 36th Street in Miami Springs near Miami International Airport.
Hotels are being developed off Northwest 36th Street in Miami Springs near Miami International Airport. Miami Herald File

Miami Springs officials recently approved four hotel projects — within a mile of one another adjacent to Miami International Airport — causing concerns from residents about traffic and overdevelopment in the three-square-mile town.

After listening to residents’ objections at the June 13 council meeting, some elected officials approved the site plans for two new hotels. One will be an eight-story, 70,000-square-foot Comfort Inn & Suites. The other will be an 11-story, 90,000-square-foot Wyndham Gardens.

On June 6, the city’s Board of Adjustments approved variances for a five-story, 80,000-square-foot yet-unnamed hotel. The site plan was previously approved by the city council.

And in an interview on June 22, Assistant City Manager William Alonso said approval had been given for a fourth hotel, a 80,000-square-foot Hampton Inn.

All four hotels will be just off Northwest 36th Street, north of the airport. Two of the hotels will be less than 500 feet apart. There are 18 hotels along the same street, bringing the total to 22 hotels in about a mile after the new additions are completed, according to city planning documents.

Miami Springs’ proximity to the airport creates the demand for many new hotels, City Planner Chris Heid said.

It’s the largest industry in the city “by far,” he said, adding that there is “very little manufacturing” in the city.

Heid also said that the space is available for the hotels, as there are several abandoned lots near the airport.

“We’re airline business dependent, and as major airlines pulled back, it left a lot of lots underutilized,” he said.

Alonso added the hotel industry brings a lot of tax revenue for the city. The Wyndham Garden project is worth $27 million alone, he said.

“Commercial development creates a tax base that lowers the burden on residents,” Alonso said.

Even though the four hotels are still in the beginning stages, Heid believes more are to come.

“We’re talking to three or four people now about different sites,” he said, adding interest along Northwest 36th Street remains high.

Despite the development — current and future — Heid and Alonso said traffic is not likely to be an issue.

“There’s a lot of airport traffic … a lot of shuttles, not like regular traffic,” Alonso said.

Some residents, however, remain unconvinced.

“How can it not?” longtime resident Leo Vidal said. “There’s already bumper-to-bumper traffic. I had to go around the whole block to find parking. Pretty soon they’re gonna start charging for parking.”

Vidal also said that construction trucks blocked part of Northwest 36th Street recently, causing issues for nearby residents.

“There was a lot of congestion because of those trucks coming into city limits, but they allowed it,” he said.

Brad Curtis shared Vidal’s concerns about traffic, though he said most of the traffic was in the downtown area.

“The circle is a concern,” he said, referring to the roundabout in the center of the city. “There’s a lot of accidents there. I’ve been almost hit myself.”

Vidal also said that the changes in the city are making it harder for older businesses to stay afloat. He said that as the city grows, larger companies are replacing local businesses.

“This used to be a sleepy little town,” he said.