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Friday, December 18, 2015

Keeping development sane

How about some intelligent development for Village West instead of mega high-rises up and down Grand Avenue?

Did you see this new project planned for the Buena Vista area? It's called a "mixed-use, pocket village," it's low rise and very pleasant for the area. 

These renderings by BVM development, the developer of the project, shows a real respect for the neighborhood. 

The first part of the development involves renovating a 4,000 square foot building, as shown. It isn't a plan to knock down the building and then build up as high as re-zoning and up-zoning can buy.

They are embracing the character of the neighborhood.

Something like this will bring new life into Village West, it will work with the neighbors on either side of it and it will bring people to the area to experience the new businesses and stores.

This will be a big test for our new commissioner, Ken Russell, will he sell out the office like others have? Or will he vote against zoning changes and up-zoning in order to keep the neighborhood quaint and livable and Coconut Grove - not turning into Brickell South.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The important factor, perhaps, is a screening process similar to the type that rental units use.

December 18, 2015 5:57 AM  
Blogger Brian Breslin said...

What is the current limit on height or density for west grove based on miami21 ? Would love to hear more west grove residents weigh in on this (it's their home after all).

December 18, 2015 7:28 AM  
Anonymous Charles Corda said...

Don't be deceived..Developers are in business to make maximize profits. That is their business. There is no shame in is the nature of their work. If Buena Vista could support a larger project you would not see a small project being developed..Market forces is what drives development..If the demand is there, bigger buildings will sprout up..UNLESS there are controls in place and politicians willing to honor those controls which are usually stipulated in the Zoning Codes such as Miami 21. The problem we have in Miami is generally not with Zoning - Miami 21 - but with the City Commissioners who are usually more than willing to subvert the code and allow pretty much whatever developers want to build.
It is very difficult..nee roll back height and density provisions of a zoning code once in place..that becomes a "taking.. without compensation" and invites armies of lawyers to march on government and file claims of unlawful taking of property rights. As such Ken Russell's hands will be pretty much tied when it comes to the Grove and West Grove..The best you can hope for is that he doesn't become the next Sarnoff and start giving away our land and re-writing the Zoning Code to benefit developers at the expense of the existing residents. Coconut Grove and the West Grove are under pressure..Demand is very high and there is limited product available.Development is coming no doubt..However improvements in infrastructure and transportation planning must go hand in hand with new higher density development...This is where Ken Russel can most logically contribute to a more livable Grove..By Insisting that improvements in infrastructure and transportation planning MUST preceed and further large scale redevelopment of Grand Avenue and the Center Grove. I also believe it is now contingent on Ken to preserve what little is left of our waterfront..simply Put NO MORE DEVELOPMENT on the Bayfront!
As to height on Grand Avenue- currently about 7-8 stories..The new Gibson Project is a good example of what current Zoning allows..
Charles Corda

December 18, 2015 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genuinely curious--and maybe this is something you or Charles Corda or someone else who monitors this sort of thing can tell me: what zoning changes or upzoning has happened in the last two years in the Grove? I just looked through this year's warrants and special permits, etc. and the only thing I saw that arguably fits in that category is the Glass House. Perhaps you could call the new Scotty's development an "upzoning," but that went to a referendum on the lease. Sure, there's been lots of demo permits this year, a couple requests for setbacks or otherwise non-confirming single family uses. What am I missing here? Because from afar, the level of concern for a bogeyman that doesn't exist seems paranoid.

As a second question, is the position of Dr. Alfieri that increased zoning density increases housing costs? Because that's undermined by microeconomics. To the contrary, if you look at areas that have gentrification and strong zoning limits--Manhattan, San Francisco, and D.C.--housing prices are out of control. If you limit supply by limiting density, you increase prices pure and simple. Increased density definitely has its downsides but increased pricing compared to lower density is not one of them.

December 18, 2015 9:33 AM  
Blogger James said...

Why exactly would increasing density be such a bad thing? It would be great if they could increase density and still keep it relatively affordable. It is very hard to get into the Grove area at a reasonable price. Increase the density and try and attract young professionals that work downtown. With better bike lanes and trolly service to the metro rail, that area is ripe for great development.

December 18, 2015 9:55 AM  
Blogger Grapevine said...

Density is bad because people who have lived there for generations don't want to live back to back with 12 story condo and office buildings. How would you like a condo or office building built in your front yard?

December 18, 2015 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the current height limit on Grand Avenue between McDonald (heading west)and US-1?

Do any of our dozens of zoning experts on here have that information at hand?

December 18, 2015 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Charles Corda said...

To Anonymous 9:33
I am not sure there has been a lot of upzoning in the Grove itself lately. Changing Center Grove to Duplex Zoning from single family was a serious and in my opinion very detrimental upzoning , but that was done a few years back. Same for the redevelopment of Grand Avenue.( If you look at the masterplans for Grand Avenue they call for low rise development in a scale that is compatible for the surrounding residential areas.) The projects down on the Bay promoted by Sarnoff-- Grove Harbor and Whole Foods again were done quite some time ago and were more a situation where zoning and master plans were completely ignored rather than a pure upzoning.
The re-development of the Theatre will most probably be a MAJOR upzoning of that property. People need to be aware of this one..If the Theatre is enlarged as it now seems probable, it can have extreme effects on traffic, noise and pollution in the Grove..many more people more cars etc... It will probably be precedent setting in its size and scope, thereby impacting all future Grove development bigger bigger and bigger projects.
If you follow the Commission's actions on a City wide basis which I do on occasion, they almost never turn down an application to upzone on a site or lot specific basis. For example the Upper Eastside has gone through multiple upzonings including very significant density increases and the lifting of height restrictions. Go back in time over the last two years or so to check what was done for Melo Developers on their properties..Its pretty obscene how Miami 21 was subverted, nee ignored when it came to supporting the interests of a major donor to election campaigns.

As to your second question- This is a complex issue and really keeps coming down to "demand" almost regardless of "supply". When density is increased by prices/costs rise according..Obviously land say on Brickell is far more expensive than the Grove because there are almost no limits as to density on Brickel or in Downtown hence the astronomical land costs there.however I don't think anyway would say that housing is cheap on Brickell because of the increased density.. Quite the contrary actually..Brickell has become extremely expensive even with the outsized density.. Upzoning from single family to Duplex also increases land costs which should logically reduce housing costs but in reality, in the Grove, now you have very expensive duplexes on in place of what were for the most part reasonably priced single family homes.
In other areas you might see prices drop with increases in density but demand is so high here in SF, and in the Grove in particular, that increases in density may have marginally lowered housing / land COSTS per dwelling unit, but housing PRICES have continued their move skyward..CRC

December 18, 2015 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The crux of density is transportation. If movement is difficult then rents will increase because the more people want to live closer to their place F employment then the more profit taking will take place. Bad public transportation and awful traffic is helping raise the real estate market in pockets of high rents and pockets of blight.

December 18, 2015 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

The problem I have with the up zoning in The village West is the removal of the tree canopy and height limits. Many of the new duplexes have a enclosed second story staircase leading to rooftop terrace which goes against Miami 21 height limits.

December 19, 2015 10:11 AM  
Blogger Headly Westerfield said...

Mr. Corda:

When you say "theater," is it safe to assume you do not mean The Ace?

December 19, 2015 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Charles Corda said...

To JACK.. MIAMI 21 ALLOWS THE ROOFTOP USE- COVERED OPEN SPACE MAX 10' Height..UP TO 400 SF .. That is actually in the code...totally legal...
Chances are over time people will enclose these rooftop rooms and add extra space to their units...I believe it was done to encourage "green" roofs,literally,grassed over with use of the rooftop space by the residents.
In my opinion it is really kind of nice..I'm working on a design right now which incorporates same, However you're correct in that the stair towers get pretty tall.
Another minor issue is that Miami 21 allows the stair towers to go within the front setback..It doesn't always work design wise but if it does it will present up to 35' high walls pretty close to the front property lines..That may not be so attractive if many people start doing it.
Charles Corda

December 19, 2015 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Charles Corda said...

No Not the Ace...I'm talking about the Playhouse...It's being re-designed right now by Architectonica...I am assuming it will be a pretty large project..incorporating the old theatre, at least one new theatre, parking , retail possibly offices and the like..

December 19, 2015 2:05 PM  
Blogger Headly Westerfield said...

Mr. Corda:

Thanks. Just wanted to be sure. I've written about the Playhouse and know that story inside out.

December 22, 2015 8:42 AM  

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