Reducing Parking Requirements in Collins Park to Incentivize Development

Collins Park

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Reducing Parking Requirements in Collins Park to Incentivize Development:

Proposal initiated by developer who wants to construct a hotel on a vacant lot

Miami Beach Planning staff and members of the Commission’s Land Use and Development Committee are supporting a proposal for reduced parking requirements in Collins Park as a way to incentivize development. The ordinance, considered by the Committee this past week, was initially proposed by Enrique Colmenares whose Ecotel LLC owns a vacant lot at 2206 Park Avenue. Colmenares wants to build a boutique hotel on the site.
The ordinance includes reductions in off-street parking requirements and a reduction in the minimum hotel unit sizes for properties located within the Convention Center District bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Washington Avenue on the west, 23rd Street on the north and 17th Street on the south.
Additionally, the minimum hotel unit size would be 200 sq ft. Currently the minimum unit size for hotel units in the area is between 300 and 335 sq. ft. There would be no parking required for new hotels in the district.
The proposal would create a new parking district number 9 within which there would be reduced parking for restaurants, outdoor cafés or bars as well as retail stores, food stores, or personal service establishments. City Planning staff recommended more lenient terms than the developer which the Committee agreed with and included in their recommendation to move it to the full Commission this week for referral to the Planning Board.
The developer suggested no parking requirements for restaurants, outdoor cafés or bars with less than 100 seats provided the establishment is within 1,200 feet of any parking garage. City staff recommended 200 seats.
The original proposal included no parking requirements for retail or food stores or personal service establishments of 2,500 square feet or less provided that the use is within 1,200 feet of any parking garage. City staff suggested 5,000 sq. ft.
In addition, according to a memo containing the referral item, “Any building or structure erected in parking district no. 9 may provide required parking on site as specified in parking district no. 1. Such required parking, if provided, shall be exempt from FAR” or Floor Area Ratio which is used to measure density.
Ordinance sponsor, Commissioner Ricky Arriola said, “Collins Park, I think, is about to experience a real renaissance. It’s in the middle of it and it’s probably another two years away or so from fully realizing that vision especially with the groundbreaking of the [Collins Park] parking garage, the reopening of the Convention Center, soon we’ll have a Convention Center hotel, and the investment community’s taking notice and they see that as a real opportunity.”

“We’ve had some inquiries about possibly doing things like reducing or eliminating parking requirements for hotel uses and I think it’s an intriguing idea,” he added. “I think there’s been some strong resident support for this concept.”
Colmenares' attorney Michael Larkin described the Collins Park neighborhood which is just east of the Convention Center as “the epitome of a support neighborhood for this newly renovated convention center.”
Within the area are “many prominent hotels,” Larkin said, “including the Raleigh Hotel, the Surfcomber Hotel, the Plymouth hotel and the Setai.”
The smaller hotel unit size, he noted, is “consistent with a trend going on in different areas of the City. Washington Avenue’s even less at 175. [North Beach] Town Center’s 200 so we feel that’s a fair ask.”
In considering reduced parking requirements, Larkin said, “There are different ways you can prove uber and Lyft are having a demonstrative effect on [City] revenues.” Aside from a great deal of anecdotal evidence, he said, there is data to back it up. 
Larkin used the City’s P-49 lot “which is the largest surface parking lot directly south of the W Hotel” as an example. “You would think that’s ideally situated so close to the beach it would never lose revenue but that’s not true,” he said. “Year after year since 2016 it has lost revenue so we’re just trying to show empirically that, yes, uber and Lyft are having a substantial effect and, yes, our parking requirements need to catch up to the reality of these car sharing services and, yes, our parking requirements are a little bit antiquated and should be revised and should be eliminated in large part or reduced.”
Colmenares wants to build a five-story hotel with 120 units on the site with a ground floor restaurant fronting on Park Avenue and a piano bar in the center. Seating would extend out to the Collins Canal according to Larkin. The project is being designed by architect Kobi Karp. 
The lot is just west of the Miami City Ballet and next door to the Eurostars Vintro Hotel at 2216 Park Avenue which The Real Deal reported Colmenares’ Encotel LLC sold last year for $20 million.



Planning Director Tom Mooney said staff “recommended going a little bit further” on the reductions in parking because, “In our experience, in areas like this, it’s physically impossible to provide parking on-site, on these small lots, in these historic buildings, and what ends up happening is the developer or the operator’s left with a choice. ‘Am I going to pay a large impact fee [in lieu of parking] or just not have the use.'” 
With regard to the 5,000 sq ft retail footprint, he said, “Those aren’t big box but it’s going to give more flexibility” on tenants that can locate within these buildings.
“We also suggested that if they end up being over that, rather than them paying a one-time fee for the new construction that they be able to avail themselves of the annual fee in lieu [of parking] which is a much more manageable way to satisfy that parking requirement,” Mooney said.
“And you’re a conservative guy when it comes to this stuff,” Arriola told Mooney, “so it’s interesting that you’re doing that so that’s good. I’d be open to that.”
The ordinance would only apply to new construction and would not apply to existing historic buildings which do not have parking requirements, Mooney said. Within the Convention Center District, he said, there are “not a lot of vacant lots. There are some limited opportunities for additions but there are very few opportunities in terms of vacant lots for new construction.”
Mooney also noted the City’s new garage on 23rd Street will have “between 5 and 600” spaces. “It’s big,” he said, providing plenty of parking for the surrounding area.
In the transmittal memo to Commission, City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote, in addition to parking garage usage in the area trending downward, “the completion of the Collins Park Garage on 23rd Street will provide additional off-street parking. As any new construction utilizing the reductions herein is not expected to become operational until, or after the completion of the Collins Park garage, the administration does not anticipate any negative impacts associated with the reduced parking requirements proposed.”
Rendering above, Kobi Karp Architecture 
Aerial view, Miami-Dade Property Appraiser, 2018 Aerial Photo
The referral to the Planning Board can be found here


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