April 18th, 2017 6:28 PM by Nour Ailan
The push is on to redevelop Miami Beach’s North Beach. The area from 63rd Street to 87th Street and westward from the ocean to the bay has lagged when compared to South Beach or Mid-Beach, which has seen explosive development in recent years.
Just last year, plans to develop the Ocean Terrace historic district, between 73rd Street and 75th Street were rejected by voters. Since a charter amendment was passed in 1997, voter approval has been required for up-zoning changes involving an FAR increase in areas facing the water. The amendment was strengthened in 2001 to include inland areas as well.
With that in mind, city officials pledged that any development plans for North Beach would get a full public airing before being approved, and next week, the city will hold a design charrette, open to the public to discuss a proposed Master Plan for North Beach. Town planning firm Dover Kohl & Partners which has been selected by the city to produce the master plan, will hold the charrette at the city-owned Byron Carlyle Theater.
Jeff Oris, economic development division director in the city’s Office of Tourism, Cultural and Economic Development, said that it’s the public’s chance to decide what happens in North Beach. “Our best job is to get people out to say what do you want your North Beach to be, and ultimately when we have a plan we want it to be the community’s plan,” he said.
Jason King, a project director and town planner with Dover Kohl, said a master plan for North Beach will be comprehensive, involving land development regulations, zoning, budget priorities and the design of streets and public spaces.
“This plan won’t just sit on the shelf, because it really is North Beach’s time,” he said. “If you look at South Beach or Mid-Beach or Surfside, North Beach has really been inexplicably passed over in terms of investment, but the secret is out,” he added. “There is going to be change in North Beach, and the question is how much and where, and what kind will it be, and if North Beach will be a better place for it.”
Community activists like Kirk Paskal, who led the fight against developing Ocean Terrace last year said, “the community is engaged,” and that all North Beach residents want is a “balanced plan.”
Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who won an upset victory last year largely backed by neighborhood activists and preservationists, said North Beach residents “don’t want large towers and they don’t want more density.” What they want, she said, is more “mass transit,” she said, and while the area needs to be upgraded, it doesn’t need big changes. “It’s very charming, and I don’t think it needs that much revitalization. It’s a beautiful neighborhood.”