First building in vast Little Haiti project gets OK – Miami Today

The very first building proposed to launch a major mixed-use project destined to change Little Haiti gained the support of the City of Miami’s influential Urban Development Review Board.
At its November meeting the board unanimously recommended approval of what’s identified as Parcel 11, part of the Magic City Innovation District – Little Haiti SAP (Special Area Plan).
The supportive vote is tied to several conditions.
In June 2019, Miami commissioners granted initial approval to the mixed-use project by approving several zoning and land use requests from the developer and its affiliate co-applicants, clearing the way for the Magic City Innovation District.
Former District 5 Commissioner Keon Hardemon helped negotiate additional perks from the developer. The project will transform about 37 abutting parcels into a major development. The project is planned for about 17 acres at 6001 NE Second Ave., and the development team promises major investment and new employment opportunities for Little Haiti and surrounding areas.
The Special Area Plan and development agreement include a maximum of 2,630 residences, hotel rooms, nearly 350,000 square feet of commercial-retail uses, and more than 1.9 million square feet of offices.
The first building is designed as a 25-story mixed-use building with 349 residential units, 13,010 square feet of commercial-retail uses and 10,093 square feet of office space, with an adjacent parking garage with spaces for 393 vehicles and amenities, connected to the tower.
Total floor area of this first building is 522,806 square feet.
The principal owner-developer is identified as MCD Miami LLC, along with Magic City Properties I, LLC, a subsidiary/affiliate of MCD Miami and the owner of the “Parcel 11” property within the SAP area.
Neisen Kasdin, an attorney representing the developers, wrote: “The SAP is a 17.75-acre phased, innovation oriented mixed-use project in the heart of Little Haiti, with core product concepts and design rooted in entrepreneurship and innovation, technology, the arts and entertainment, sustainability and resiliency and health and wellness.”
The SAP area is generally bounded on the north by the Little Haiti Soccer Park and Northeast 64th Terrace, on the east by Northeast Fourth Court and Northeast Fourth Avenue, on the south by Northeast 60th Street and on the west by Northeast Second Avenue.
Miami 21 zoning code requires all new buildings within the SAP with more than 200,000 square feet in floor area to be reviewed by the Urban Development Review Board.
Parcel 11 is on an approximately 43,532-square-foot site created from a portion of what is currently 6001 NE Second Ave.
Mr. Kasdin said the specific location of Parcel 11 is at the northeast corner of the new, soon-to-be-created intersection of existing Northeast 60th Street (bordering the south side of Parcel 11) and the proposed extension of Northeast Third Avenue southward from Northeast 61st Street (bordering the west side of Parcel 11).
“Parcel 11 opens to the north directly into the SAP’s Promenade du Grand Bois, a grand, pedestrian oriented promenade civic space that will span the entire width of the SAP area. Given its location along the Promenade du Grand Bois, the north side of Parcel 11 serves as the site’s principal frontage, and will contain active ground floor commercial uses accessible directly from the promenade,” wrote Mr. Kasdin.
“The east side of Parcel 11 will contain 12 feet of a 20-foot pedestrian paseo linking the Promenade du Grand Bois south into NE 60th Street (the remaining 8 feet of the paseo will be located on the SAP’s building site immediately east of Parcel 11),” he said.
The owner-developer is currently engaged in a companion platting process with the city and Miami-Dade County to effectuate the proposed extension of Northeast Third Avenue, as well as other right-of-way modifications within or abutting the SAP area.
The Miami 21 zoning code says the purpose of a SAP is to allow 9 abutting acres or more to be master planned to allow greater integration of public improvements and infrastructure, and “greater flexibility so as to result in higher or specialized quality building and Streetscape design.”
The Magic City proposal early on spawned numerous marathon meetings where sides were taken.
Supporters said it will bring much-needed employment and economic stimulus to the area. Opponents fear it will fuel gentrification and forever change the character of Little Haiti.
Mr. Kasdin told the board this project will be a great redevelopment of a site that has been abandoned for years, and the northeast area of the project is being eyed for a new train station.
He said the spine of the project will be a grand promenade.
“New streets will be created for better connectivity and advanced mobility,” he said.
Architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia, a founding principal of Arquitectonica, explained some of the details of the proposed 25-story building. He said it will be a multi-family rental apartment building with active retail on the ground floor. The overall project will be preserving many mature trees on the property, he said.
Board member Ignacio Permuy said, “I commend the team on a job very well done. I like the massing of the building, the articulation. I’m very much for this project.”
“I find it difficult to express opinions and judgment on your project. I don’t know what’s going on in that area,” said board member Anthony Tzamtzis. “This is the first building, others are coming, but I don’t know much about the others. My initial reaction is: the building is too tall. All of a sudden you have 25 stories in an area where there’s nothing, but the zoning allows that,” he said.
“To me the beauty of the project is the skeleton (façade design). The skeleton is key, and when I vote for this, it is for this,” Chairman Willy Bermello said, pointing to renderings of the buildings.
Mr. Permuy suggested changes to the façade of the tower to better define the outline or grid of the skeleton, perhaps extending the skeleton outward more and vary the color palette.
The motion to recommend approval included conditions: strengthen the skeleton of the tower vertically and horizontally; rethink how the balconies and rails will be integrated with the skin of the building; review design of the paseo in the east side along the loading area; and develop the promenade concurrently with development of the north sections of the property.
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