A makeover for North Beach?

BY JOEY FLECHAS

jflechas@miamiherald.com

The first draft of a master plan for the neighborhood in the northern section of Miami Beach includes more bus and bike lanes, plans for creating local historic districts and ideas for creating a stretch of taller, mixed-use buildings as part of a town center along 71st Street.

Urban planners at Dover, Kohl & Partners have spent months studying the area, talking to residents and working with consultants to get a sense of what the community wants and what it needs.

Among the general ideas in the first draft:

▪ Make a town center: Redevelop 71st Street into a main street for the neighborhood, with taller mixed-used buildings, a new parking garage, a reimagined use for the 72nd Street surface lot and a redeveloped Byron Carlyle Theater. The taller buildings, possibly up to 12 stories, would have setbacks at the fifth floor to prevent the buildings from having an overpowering effect from the street level.

▪ Mobility: Install new crosswalks, create protected bike lanes, make dedicated bus lanes.

▪ Protect neighborhoods: Create local historic districts on Normandy Isle and in North Shore that would protect architecturally significant buildings from demolition. Also create conservation districts that don’t have demolition protections but provide design guideline for new construction. North Beach contains a rich stock of Miami Modern and late-era Art Deco apartment buildings. Incorporate affordable housing, perhaps through inclusionary zoning.

▪ Utilize public lands: Reimagine use of 72nd Street surface parking lot, which could include park space or a civic building. Create a plan for developing eight half-blocks of public land on upper Collins Avenue, which could include parking, mixed-use buildings, a community garden and a hotel.

▪ Build to last: Incorporate resiliency measures, such as building higher and raising seawalls. Widen the beach to help deal with potential storm surge. Raise historic facades.

I LOVE THAT IT’S ACTUALLY A DIVERSE AREA.Paul Lefrak, a renter in North Beach

The planners summarized these concepts for the City Commission and for the public this week. They will further refine ideas and take input as they prepare a final draft to present to the commission in the fall.

Jason King, a principal at Dover, Kohl & Partners, told commissioners he saw hundreds of residents participate in the public input process — more than in other communities like Dallas or Richmond, Virginia.

“We did not get this many people,” he said.

About 175 residents came out Tuesday night to see the draft at a community meeting in North Beach. Afterward, Paul Lefrak said he’s glad to see interest in enhancing the neighborhood but doesn’t want it to lose its charm and diverse character, particularly if redevelopment leads to higher rents.

“I would like to see North Beach retain affordable housing for working people,” said Lefrak, who rents. “My fear is that people will be priced out of the area.”

Those interested in reading the full draft can find a downloadable version atwww.plannobe.org/resources/.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602@joeflech


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