Miami Beach Voters Pass Referendums Approving More Density For Some, Less For Others
Residents of Miami Beach approved all six referendum questions on their primary ballot Tuesday, including a handful that will have an impact on development in the city.
The most impactful measure passed allows the developer of the Alton Road Gateway Project to increase the allowable density on its site.
Terra, which is replacing the community health center at 710 Alton Road, will be allowed to build to a 2.6 floor-area ratio, clearing the way for a roughly 15-story tower with about 120 units, office space and retail, Terra’s Russell Galbut told The Real Deal Wednesday. In exchange for the allowable density — the site previously allowed 2.0 FAR — Terra has agreed to build a new health center and library across the street from its project.
A ballot measure that would force developers who are building in vacated city alleyways and side streets to get voter approval to increase their projects’ floor-area ratio also passed Tuesday night. Developers had previously been able to build denser projects than zoning allows by incorporating former city streets and alleys into their projects — they will now need to get a referendum approved to get that additional FAR.
“I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised,” that the FAR referendum passed, said Neisen Kasdin, a managing partner at law firm Akerman and a former mayor of Miami Beach. “I’ve always held the belief that the U.S. Constitution protects property owners’ rights to not be subject to popular vote.”
Another referendum passed that would allow developers to build denser residential projects if they convert properties zoned as apartment-hotels. The city voted to ban those types of properties last year, and now voters have approved an incentive for developers to convert those buildings to permanent housing.
“There is this idea that transient [developments] are viewed as disruptive,” Kasdin said. “This incentivizes developers from working on transient projects.”
Voters also approved adding a rule that the city’s Board of Adjustments, which hears land use and zoning cases, must have an architect among its seven members.