FAR Increase

Here’s what you’ll see on your ballot:

Floor area ratio (FAR) is the measure the City utilizes to regulate the overall size of a building. Should the City adopt an ordinance increasing FAR in the Town Center (TC) zoning districts (Collins and Dickens Avenues to Indian Creek Drive between 69 and 72 Streets) to 3.5 FAR from current FAR of 2.25 to 2.75 for the TC-1 district; from 2.0 for the TC-2 district; and from 1.25 for the TC-3 district?

This is pretty straightforward, once you decode it a bit.

If floor-to-area ratio is raised, that will allow for bigger, taller buildings in what city officials (and almost no one else) call the “town center” of North Beach.

North Beach – not to be confused with North Miami Beach – goes from about 63rd Street on Miami Beach up to the Surfside border at 88th Street and includes Normandy Isle. The “town center” is basically 69th Street to 72nd Street, stretching the width of the barrier island that is Miami Beach.

Last year, Miami Beach revealed the North Beach Master Plan, which laid out a plan for bringing change to the neighborhood that’s been left behind in the city’s rapid redevelopment.

If the FAR increase is approved, that will allow for the development of mixed-use buildings in the town center, with stores and cafes on the ground floor and apartments on the floors above. Developers have long said that the lower FAR made development in the area cost-prohibitive.

A “yes” vote has the support of both developers AND preservationists, which pretty much never happens on the Beach. How did that come about? According to the Miami Herald:

One of the central elements of the plan is to create local historic districts to protect the architecturally rich stock of Miami Modern apartment buildings while allowing for more density in Town Center so property owners can redevelop — a balance between preservation and revitalization that was reached over a yearlong planning process.

So –

Voting yes means you support increasing the floor-to-area ratio in the town center, paving the way for bigger, taller buildings that will be mixed-use. This only applies to the town center, not the rest of the neighborhood.

Voting no means maintaining the low-profile character of the neighborhood everywhere, including the town center.