North Beach’s new main street might include tiny apartments, 200-foot towers and homes that double as businesses.

This vision for the “Town Center” area along 71st Street, developed by city planners, is designed to turn a stretch of the island that has seen little development into a hub where residents can live, work, shop and eat without ever getting into a car.

“We think that there’s an opportunity to make Town Center more walkable and more liveable and we want to see Town Center thrive,” said Thomas Mooney, Miami Beach’s planning director. “We wanted to have more of a 24-hour feel.”

Mooney and his team have proposed allowing developers to build up to 200 feet if they provide a public benefit, such as affordable housing or a contribution to a fund that could be used for a variety of neighborhood projects. He said limiting the height to 12 stories (125 feet), which was recommended in the master plan for North Beach, would generate “static” buildings and wouldn’t leave much room for creativity.

“We wanted to build in the ability for a good architect to be able to creatively redistribute” the allowed density in a taller structure, Mooney said.

In addition to allowing micro-units — tiny, furnished apartments in buildings with shared amenities — city planners have recommended permitting artisanal retail where goods like artwork, food and beer are produced and sold on-site and neighborhood fulfillment centers where shoppers can pick up goods they order online. Units where residents can live and work in the same space would also be allowed.

But not everyone agrees with this vision for Town Center.

The redevelopment of the area between Collins Avenue and Indian Creek Drive/Dickens Avenue from 69th Street to 72nd Street was approved by voters last November when they authorized an increase in density. Voters approved an increase in the overall size of buildings in the area, but the referendum didn’t get into specifics. That was left up to the city’s planning department.

Some residents object to allowing 200-foot towers and are skeptical about the micro-units, which they say will only attract tourists. (Short-term rentals are legal in the Town Center area.)

North Beach activist Kirk Paskal said 200-foot towers weren’t what voters envisioned when they cast their ballots because the height increase hadn’t been included in the master plan or agreed to by residents.

“Now suddenly, this new urgency for more height could severely damage the character of North Beach in a drastic and permanent way,” Paskal said in an email. “Any public benefits that may be proposed by way of this last minute effort to stray from the plan, could not justly recompense the harm that would be inflicted on the alluring human scale and cohesive character of North Beach by the incompatible and oppressive height of 200 feet.”

Paula King, a longtime North Beach resident, also has concerns about the maximum height.

“What they’re looking for is to build these high needles that are higher than any other building in North Beach so they can have the view and charge more for it,” King said. “Miami Beach is not New York. We don’t have the infrastructure to support this.”

Tiny Living

Micro-units are a trend in urban areas among residents who are willing to trade space for the opportunity to live in a neighborhood they couldn’t otherwise afford. Projects have sprouted up in Wynwood and downtown Miami, as well as in Miami Beach. A new micro-unit project at 6080 Collins Ave. offers apartments as small as 350 square feet, about the size of two parking spaces. Other micro-unit projects are in the works on South Beach’s Washington Avenue.

Mooney and his team have proposed allowing micro-units in hotels and apartment buildings in Town Center as long as the building includes plenty of shared amenities like community kitchens, business centers and gyms.

Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is skeptical the micro-units will appeal to North Beach residents, however.

“What you have right there is a massive amount of transient tourism,” Rosen Gonzalez said. “It really is not reflective of what the community wanted,” she added, referring to the micro-units and the proposed height limits. “We can’t turn North Beach into South Beach.”

Others disagree. In order to attract young people and plan for the future, the regulations forTown Center need to leave room for new housing trends, said Commissioner Ricky Arriola.

“I think we need to be open minded and flexible,” Arriola said. “We can’t be rigid and just stick to the way we’ve always done things. The facts are that we are losing our millennial generation across the bay.”

North Beach residents have mixed views on the proposals.

Miguel Gonzalez, 36, said he wasn’t sure there is a market for micro-units right now due to a lack of job opportunities and public transportation. But Gonzalez, a lawyer who lives within walking distance of Town Center, said that could change.

“If you could work and live in the same place, like in downtown Miami, if they can convert this into that kind of area, more young people might be interested,” Gonzalez said.

Judith Acame, 77, lives in the Town Center area and said she thought the micro-units would appeal to young people, but not to low-income retirees like her.

“People my age will have to move to cheaper areas,” Acame said in Spanish.

Acame said she loves living in the neighborhood because she can walk to her yoga and Tai chi classes and to a nearby senior center. If the area gets more expensive and fills with buildings catering to young people.

“I guess I’d have to go to Hialeah, where my brother lives,” Acame said.

Ultimately, the city will have to be flexible in order to attract economic development to North Beach, said Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán.

“North Beach’s Town Center District has seen little new development since the concept originated in 2003,”Alemán said in an email. “This time around, it is imperative that the Commission err on the side of growth and progress. The North Beach community craves results.”

The planning department’s proposal, included in the draft of an ordinance that will regulate area development, will be evaluated by the city’s planning board on July 24 and by the Land Use and Development committee on July 31. The City Commission will have final say.

The draft ordinance includes a number of other proposals, including provisions to ensure ample space between towers so that air and light filter down, limits on the numbers of hotel rooms and apartments, and noise reduction requirements for businesses that provide entertainment.

Source: Miami Herald

Miami’s rental apartment market is about to get smaller — literally.

Micro-units — compact, affordable apartments aimed at young, single professionals who want to live in popular neighborhoods without paying exorbitant rents — are sprouting up in Wynwood, downtown Miami and other desirable areas where prices make it impossible for younger people to buy.

Wynwood 25 rendering

Groundbreaking is scheduled to begin in July on Wynwood 25, a $100 million mixed-use project by Miami’s Related Group and the New York-based East End Capital. The 400,000-square-foot development will occupy 2.3 acres and include 289 rental apartments, ranging in size from 400 to 1,200 square feet.

By comparison, the average two-car garage is 480 to 625 square feet.

More than 80 percent of the apartments at Wynwood 25 will be studios and one-bedrooms, starting at $1,400 per month. A limited number of three-bedroom units will go for $3,200 per month.

“Our approach to the building is to think about the type of person who would be drawn to Wynwood and want to live there,” said Jonathon Yormak, founder and managing principal of East End Capital. “This is not the same as Brickell or Miami Beach.”

Yormak said he hopes the micro-sized apartments will attract what he calls “the creative class — not just millennials but simply people who have a creative mindset and appreciate the arts, the entertainment and the grittiness that is cool about Wynwood.”

Apartment Boom In Wynwood

Wynwood 25 is one of three major residential projects Related Group is developing in the neighborhood. Another rental apartment building, Wynwood 26, is a joint venture with Block Capital Group that will feature 176 micro-units. Groundbreaking is scheduled for later this year.

Related’s third tower, Wynwood 29, a partnership with developer Tony Cho will offer micro-condos ranging in size from 416 to 900 square feet and priced from $200,000 to $500,000.

“If you go to Wynwood, the streets are always full, day or night,” said Jon Paul Perez, vice president of Related Group. “We think the first developer that gets to the residential market there will be the most successful.”

Wynwood 25 will be the first residential building to break ground under the regulations established by the Neighborhood Revitalization District plan (NRD), a joint effort hatched in 2015 between the city of Miami’s Planning and Zoning Department and Wynwood’s Business Improvement District (BID). The plan aims to help guide Wynwood’s transition from an industrial district to a standalone, self-sustaining neighborhood..

“The NRD is driven to shape Wynwood into a mixed-use, vibrant neighborhood with places to work and live, in addition to the existing businesses and restaurants,” said Steven J. Wernick, an attorney at Akerman LLP., who serves as land-use counsel for East End and assisted in the joint venture with Related. “Over time, we’ll see a diverse group of people moving into Wynwood — people who want to be close to places of work, arts and culture and restaurants. This building is an economic catalyst for more development in the heart of Wynwood, and it adds a significant amount of units to the neighborhood’s housing stock.”

Vice rendering

Micro-units are spreading to other neighborhoods, too. Scheduled for completion in fall 2018 is Vice, a 464-unit apartment rental tower at 230 NE Fourth St., in downtown Miami. The building is part of a nationwide rollout by developer Property Markets Group of a 5,000-unit pipeline of apartments, dubbed PMGx, pitched at millennials and young professionals in cities such as Miami, Denver and Chicago. (A Fort Lauderdale tower is planned for 2020.)

Vice, a 464-apartment rental tower at 230 NE Fourth St., is part of a national rollout of micro-units by developer PMG. Construction is scheduled to be completed by fall 2018.

Apartments at the Vice tower will start at 450 square-foot studios for $1,600 per month to three-bedroom, 1,400 square-foot units for $4,200. The building will offer common-space amenities, a jumbo-sized gym and high-tech features such as smart locks and thermostats. Flat-screen TVs and bookcases will be incorporated into some of the units, so tenants just need to bring a sofa, bed and dining table.

“Typically, as you progress through life and grow professionally you can afford better places to live,” said Ryan Shear, a principal at PMG’s Miami branch. “The building is targeted toward the younger demographic, because that’s the price point we’re trying to hit. But the term ‘micro-unit’ is often abused. 520 square feet in New York is not considered micro, but it is in Miami. We just see them as smaller apartments

Micro-units have already popped up around Miami as part of larger residential projects. The Flats Luxury Apartments in CityPlace Doral, for example, include a 518-square-foot studio for $1,645.

Tight Rental Market

Despite all the new construction in South Florida, demand continues to outpace supply in the apartment rental market. A 2017 first quarter study by Cushman & Wakefield claims 30,093 new apartment units were built in the past five years, while the region’s population ballooned by 333,000 — just one unit for every 11 new residents.

Although smaller apartments cost less to build, that doesn’t always translate to lower square-footage pricing. The costs of the most expensive rooms in any apartment — the bathroom and kitchen, which require plumbing, tile, cabinetry and electrical — remain the same, no matter the overall size of the unit.

According to Trulia, the median rental price for one-bedroom apartments in Miami in May was $1,500 — roughly the same price of the new micro-units. But the trend toward smaller apartment living is spreading. Tom C. Murphy, co-president of Coastal Construction Group of South Florida, says the average size of units in multifamily residential projects (i.e. apartment buildings) has gone down about 10 percent over the last five years, from 950 square feet to 900 square feet.

“We’re also seeing a trend in design for units to go even smaller,” Murphy said. “Developers now want to get two bedrooms into a 600- or 800-square-foot space. This is happening all over the country.”

What’s unique about Wynwood 25 is that the building is spearheading an attempt to bring full-time residents to the neighborhood.

“By Miami standards, these spaces are smaller than what you might find in suburban areas, which are geared toward multi-bedroom, large family products,” said Albert Garcia, vice chairman of Wynwood BID and managing principal for Wynwood Ventures. “These are designed for young adults who see Wynwood as the amenity for living in this area. Their living room space might be smaller, but they are steps away from cafés, galleries, retail, entertainment venues and museums.”

According to a study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, 61.6 percent of renters in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area were cost burdened (spending 30 percent of their income on housing), and 35.2 percent of renters were severely cost burdened (spending more than half their income on housing). South Florida ranked seventh out of 381 U.S. markets in the study.

Neighborhood As Amenity

The micro-unit trend started in large metropolitan areas such as New York and San Francisco four years ago, when a shortage of affordable housing led developers to try building smaller, more reasonably priced rentals.

Real estate analyst Jonathan Miller says the micro-unit concept hasn’t taken hold in New York City, because the rents aren’t that much cheaper on a square-foot basis than existing older buildings. But in a neighborhood like Wynwood, where residential is still a new form of construction and the target is a younger audience, the idea could sell.

“It’s very promising in terms of offering more affordability to an upstart market,” Miller said. “The premise is that in urban markets with a lot of restaurants and services, you don’t spend as much time at home, so smaller living spaces can be optimal. It will remain to be seen whether Wynwood will embrace this, but conceptually it makes a lot of sense.”


Source: Miami Herald