Downtown Development Authority Backs Miami 21

The DDA officially endorsed Miami 21 (sort of). The changes will be considered when the code is heard before the City Commission, tentatively in April. The changes  involve current entitlements and permits, non-conformities and development rights. I didn’t see anything objectionable with the requests as they seem to be a matter of assuring business leaders that they will not lose rights/money as a result of the new  code.

To help strengthen its hand, the authority’s Miami 21 endorsement carried a condition that it will re-open its resolution after the city commission’s first hearing to check that the authority’s conditions were added.

Former County Chair Bruno Barreiro, whose district includes Downtown, is critical of the plan because, “in exchange for more density the city would lose on ‘creativity, innovation and individuality.”  Bruno:  codes don’t design beautiful buildings, talented architects do.

Here are some of the changes being called for and what they mean for Miami 21:

  • Ensuring the rights and approvals downtown developers have received for projects under the existing zoning code will not be lost.
  • Providing specific details on the methods the city will use to calculate fees under Miami 21’s public benefits program, whereby developers looking for development bonuses in height or capacity pay a fee for such bonuses.
  • Extending automatic extensions for existing development permits and approvals to six years from the code’s inception.
  • The authority also wants the city to allow unlimited extensions beyond that time subject to city commission approval.
  • Devising language that clarifies that the process for determining minor changes to development permits and approvals remains the same under the new code.
  • Providing protection for existing structures from casualties such as hurricanes. If a structure built under the old code were destroyed, it would allow the owner to rebuild under the current code.
  • Keeping downtown property uses deemed legal under the old code legal under Miami 21 as long as the structure remains the same.
  • Allowing structures that don’t meet the existing code to be expanded as long as non-conforming elements are not expanded.

As with most things, the devil is in the details, but this is a step in the right direction.

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