Downtown Miami paves way for 15,000 more housing units

Written by on September 27, 2022


An analysis commissioned by the Miami DDA’s Downtown Development of Regional Impact (DDRI) Task Force has pinpointed land use exchanges to create a pool of credits to allow 15,000 or so more downtown residential units, which are already over the development limit.

The memorandum by North Carolina-based planning, engineering and design consultant Kimley-Horn on July 21 summarized potential rebalancing scenarios for the development program’s caps, using land exchange rates that would convert some less-utilized categories into more in-demand uses, such as residential and office. The study showed “an overage [in use] of development credits for residential land use and a surplus of development credits for all other land uses.”

The DDRI, adopted in 1987 when development capacity was approved to be tapped in three phases, facilitates large-scale developments in the urban core to be master planned for developers to build out the area, according to the city. Each land use has its own allotment of development credits. The current development credits, as of May, include 63 more residential units used than allowed.

Available are 1,945,545 square feet of unused credits for offices, 947,223 square feet for retail and 3,486 rooms for hotels. But there is already an excess use of 63 residential units, with 35,300 total unit credits provided and 35,363 used.

There are also surpluses to add convention space totaling 702,780 square feet, industrial space with 1,762,884 square feet, and institutional at 569,881 square feet, said the study.

“Kimley-Horn has provided some support [to analyze] how to calibrate and recredit areas,” said Lakisha Hull, director of the City of Miami Planning Department. “So, we feel pretty confident, based on the memo, that we do have a way to move forward, especially when it comes to residential.”

“We’ve done some exercises in the office space, and based on how the downtown area is trending, we [could] do some exchanges focusing on exchanging out land uses that are generally not needed, like industrial and institutional,” said Sue Trone, city chief of comprehensive planning. “We need some office, less of retail, and we can get up to about 15,000 to 17,000 residential units.”

In the analysis, exchange rates were utilized to present potential conversions from each land use with surplus credits to eliminate the overage of 63 residential units, as the development order of the DDRI Increment III allows for simultaneous increases and decreases of land uses.

For office use, 14,722 credits would be needed to eliminate the overage of residential units in the conversion, said the memo. For retail, 6,987 credits would be needed to do that, and for industrial space, 122,844 credits would be needed.

To get 1,000 residential units, the report showed that an exchange of 299,022 credits would be needed from office space; 117,887 credits from retail; 605 credits from hotel; 143,611 credits would be needed from institutional space, and 5,212 from attractions, measured in seats used.

The DDRI Task Force is to present a resolution that would be “approachable, not risky,” said Melissa Tapanes Llahues, shareholder of Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin and Tapanes Zoning, Land use and Environmental Law and member of the Miami DDA Board of Directors. She advised to start with a 1,000 residential unit exchange scenario to cover the 63 residential units over the limit.

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