In an effort to halt the homogenization of the City’s historic districts and maintain the unique character of the Miami Beach brand, an ordinance has been proposed to create an Art Deco/MIMO Overlay District where formula restaurants and retail establishments would be prohibited. Initially part of the 10 Point Plan for Ocean Drive, an area of North Beach, including Ocean Terrace, was added.
This week, the Planning Board held a lengthy debate on the proposal, ultimately giving it a favorable recommendation with suggested changes. It now goes to the City Commission for consideration and public hearing.
There was consensus on the “no brainer” prohibitions in the ordinance on “nuisance uses” including check cashing stores, convenience stores, marijuana dispensaries, occult science establishments, package liquor stores, pawnshops, pharmacy stores, souvenir and t-shirt shops, and tattoo studios.
Lengthy debate ensued over the definition of formula restaurant and retail establishments. As drafted, the ordinance defines formula restaurants as brands with more than 100 outlets nationwide or a restaurant with more than five establishments in operation or with approved development orders in Miami Beach. And, as drafted, the ordinance defines formula retail as having ten or more retail establishments in the United States or five or more establishments in operation or with approved development orders in Miami Beach.
Most of the discussion focused on restaurants on Ocean Drive. While property owners and members of the Planning Board were generally in agreement with the spirit of the ordinance, the biggest concern was how this would impact the ability of property owners to attract creditworthy tenants. For new buyers, who have paid a premium – the recent $15 million sale of the 1200 Ocean Drive building that houses The Palace restaurant was mentioned – how would they attract a tenant able to pay the rent on that space if this ordinance were passed? Would this ordinance negatively impact the value of properties if owners could not attract creditworthy tenants? How would any owner (new or long-time) finance renovations of their building if they are not able to attract a creditworthy tenant? Several speakers mentioned the problem with aggressive hawkers on Ocean Drive and said the current issues are being caused by smaller, lower quality businesses that need to push people into their restaurants whereas more established restaurants do not need to “market” that way.
There was a clarification from staff that this ordinance would not prohibit a particular corporation from opening a restaurant but that they would need to ensure it was in some way unique to Miami Beach rather than one of their chain operations. That point gave members some assurance that creditworthy tenants would not be locked out of the market.
The Board ultimately decided to send the ordinance to the full Commission with a favorable recommendation but with suggested changes – modifying the definition of formula restaurant to be 400 establishments nationwide and formula retail to be five or more retail establishments on Miami Beach (striking the ten establishments nationwide after concerns were raised about limiting some high quality retail establishments).
There was a request from the newest Planning Board member, Daniel Veitia who lives in North Beach to include a limitation on massage parlors and their hours of operation. “I don’t want to eliminate Massage Envy,” he said. Saying that there are three massage parlors in North Beach open after midnight, he asked, “How do I get rid of the bad people?” The Board asked the staff to include language with potential limits on massage parlors and hours of operation.
The areas included in the proposed ordinance are in South Beach fronting Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue between 5th and 15th Streets and North Beach fronting Ocean Terrace, Collins Avenue, and Harding Avenue between 73rd Street and 75th Street. Current establishments including Pinkberry, T.G.I. Friday’s, Johnny Rockets – all on Ocean Drive and which would fall within the definition of formula establishment – would be grandfathered in. The formula retail definition does not apply to Collins Avenue.
Details on the definitions and the full draft ordinance are here.
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