north beach: burgeoning hot spot

Susan Askew
Susan Askew
The North Beach Master Plan Steering Committee this week heard progress reports on several initiatives that came out of the plan and then set priorities for what they’d like to see Miami Beach Commissioners focus on next.
 
Developer Aria Mehrabi came with poster board concepts of his plans for the City National Bank building and adjoining properties. Attorney (and former Mayor) Neisen Kasdin kicked off the discussion saying “Aria has given a lot of thought to the project and the best mix of tenants that will be best for the neighborhood, good neighborhood tenants.”
 
Mehrabi said what attracted his firm to North Beach is the Town Center concept laid out in the Master Plan. With that in mind, he put together several adjoining sites including the City National Bank building on the south side of 71st Street and the surrounding blocks between Byron and Harding Avenues.
 
Plans include a specialty grocery store on one side and retail along 71st Street. “Grocery stores are a good draw,” said Mehrabi. “To create a Town Center, it’s good to have a mix of retail that draws folks there.” While he recognizes that everyone loves Whole Foods, current business issues may preclude them from expanding to the site so he is speaking with four different operators about their interest.
 
The east lot, Mehrabi said, will be “more like Sunset Harbour, a gathering place.” He is talking with several restaurants about their interest in coming to North Beach. When asked about Prima Pasta, a local favorite on 71st, Mehrabi said he is working on retaining the restaurant and potentially relocating them, adding “We definitely want to keep him as an operator.”
 
The idea behind the 71st Street retail according to Mehrabi is to provide 20-25 smaller spaces that are more affordable and can be used as “incubator space and to attract local businesses .. We’re hoping that will allow local businesses to thrive,” he said.
 
As part of the development, the owners are asking the City to convey two city-owned parking lots in exchange for a greater number of public parking spaces in the area. Kasdin is hoping to be before the Commission in July for referral to the Planning Board that same month, then back to Commission for a zoning change to allow an extra ten feet in height for the parking garage and conveyance of the parcels. Details on the proposal here.
 
“The City has been very positive and cooperative,” Kasdin said. But, with the many items for consideration, “This needs to get priority … This is one [development] that’s ready to happen now. It’s not a dream.”
 
Mehrabi added to the time sensitivity. “Tenants are ready and interested. We’ve got the sense of urgency to try to make it work.”
 
North Beach Yard: The Steering Committee discussed next steps for the North Beach Yard concept and the upcoming community meeting to discuss what the neighborhood wants from the space.

There is some concern brewing over potential noise levels on the site and owners on Harding Avenue are requesting a change of location from 81st and Collins to a spot adjacent to the Bandshell. Rick Kendle of the Save North Beach Group says twelve residents are planning on suing if a compromise is not reached. “I don’t want to start with that,” he said. “We support it but we believe it belongs next to the Bandshell.”
 
Erick Chiroles, an aide to Commissioner Ricky Arriola who is spearheading the project, promised plenty of community outreach to ensure North Beach Yard is what people want it to be. “We’re going to cater to the community,” he said. “Otherwise we’re not going to be successful.”
 
City Economic Development Specialist Vania Pedraja-Castro agreed. “We’re trying to make sure this is a project for the community, by the community. That’s why we’re putting so much emphasis on this community meeting. We want to enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood.”
 
The community meeting to further discuss the concept will be Thursday, June 8 at 6:30 pm in the North Shore Youth Center, 501 72nd Street.
 
Short-term and Mid-term priorities: Economic Development Director Jeff Oris asked the Steering Committee for their thoughts on what’s next, citing the progress made on several items so far. “Town Center is happening faster than I think anyone expected, the historic preservation and conservation overlay is moving forward, and 72nd Street is years ahead of where I thought we would be.”
 
The Steering Committee prioritized as its short-term goals entrance signs for 71st and 87th Streets; landscape / streetscape for 71st, 72nd, and 81st Streets, the West Lots and Ocean Terrace; and finishing / ensuring funding for the North Shore Open Space Park and Altos del Mar Park.
 
As its mid-term goals, the Committee prioritized the 72nd Street Garage and an urban design for the area, the Normandy Circle project, a parking garage for Biscayne Beach, and 75th Street redevelopment (moving the library and housing Ocean Rescue with potentially other uses on the oceanfront lot).
 
The Committee deferred discussion of allowing lot aggregation for the Housing Authority to create additional affordable housing units in the conservation district until its next meeting at the end of June. The proposed design guidelines for the area do not allow for more than two lots to be aggregated, three if parts of historic buildings are preserved.
 
All of the items as presented in the North Beach Master Plan can be found here.
 

north beach yard concept details


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
more food options, more "green" programming, and a marketplace

one step forward for town center project

North Shore


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
financial terms still need to be worked out for cnb parcels

Normandy Isle plaza concept unveiled

Normandy Isle


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
city reaching out to community for input

First new development under NOBE master plan

North Shore


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
planning board gives nod to hotel at 72nd and collins

City designates historic areas in North Beach

Normandy Isle , North Shore


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
design guidelines to be drawn up for new construction and adaptations

Parking relief for Biscayne Beach

Biscayne Beach


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
new parking garage recommended