Tag Archive for: land use

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With Palm Beach attracting new residents and businesses from all over the country, the Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a proposal  to reform the zoning codes.

Planning and Zoning Director Wayne Bergman told those at the commission’s Feb. 16 meeting that the proposal would primarily touch on zoning codes, but it could spill over into other areas, such as parking and drainage. Bergman said the current zoning code, which is approximately 40 years old, started out as “very conventional.”

“The code was created as more suburban that urban-geared. A reform would take approximately two or three years, and it must be supported and funded by [the] Town Council,” Bergman said.

He told the Daily News the sections of the code most in need of reform include the rules for construction within the town, stormwater drainage, and the Architectural and Landmarks commissions.

A proposal to reform town codes is not new. Former Planning and Zoning Director John Martin, who resigned  in January 2020 after only 17 months on the job, first proposed a reform in 2019 to  the council that included the concept of New Urbanism. Walkable blocks and streets, environmental sustainability and accessible public spaces are key elements of New Urbanism.

The proposal included Martin’s recommendation for the town to hire two firms, Congress for the New Urbanism and the Miami architectural firm of Duany Plater-Zybwerk, as consultants at a total cost of up to $250,000.

The overhaul of the zoning code never happened because the council did not approve an amendment to laws that would have allowed it, and the proposal faced resistance from many in the community. Upon Martin’s departure, the council decided it would be better to carve up code reform into pieces, starting with flood-elevation guidelines.

“The new proposal would follow Martin’s in most aspects, but with a slightly different approach on the initial setup,” said Bergman. “Getting  the council to commit and establish a realistic budget of how much and how long the code reform would take will be essential.”

Bergman also spoke of  possibly forming a steering committee  comprising a mix of council members, planning and zoning, and the landmarks commission to oversee code reform.

“Input from residents  also would be a key factor,” Bergman said. “The steering committee would lead the process of hiring an outside consultant to assist in setting a scope for code reform, define goals, and objectively analyze the code and its conflicts, along with community outreach.”

The proposal also would include education sessions on the background of land use codes, historic preservation, mobility and building designs.

Bergman acknowledged that at any point, the initiative “could end up off the rails and stopping completely”  if it lacks support from the town.

Zoning Chairman Michael Ainslie said Bergman had the support of the committee to move ahead and provide more detail on the concept for the next meeting.

“Everybody knows this is going to be a substantial investment,” Ainslie said. “Last time it went off the rails, it wasn’t as much about the money than it was about the approach.”

Vice Chair Richard Kleid disagreed with the possibility of creating “another committee similar to the Underground Utilities Task Force,” instead of allowing Planning and Zoning to take the lead.

Commissioner Michael Spaziani also questioned the need to hire an outside consultant, saying members of the commission could work on sections of the code themselves.

“I think that is the reason we were chosen to be on this committee,” Spaziani said.

Commissioner Richard Pollock said an outside firm could allow more transparency of the process.

“Too many times I hear that we, as a board, are in somebody’s pocket. It’s important to be unbiased, compute and present. Not to decide, jam and cram it,” Pollock said.


Source: Palm Beach Daily News


Close up image of human hands holding sprout

A new chapter is emerging for the closed Macy’s at the Pompano Citi Centre as developers have applied to replace the now-shuttered department store with a 356-unit apartment complex.

The Pompano Beach review committee on just gave an initial blessing to the proposal by the Morgan Cos. of Houston, which has developed or is in the process of building rental projects in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Boynton Beach. Besides Florida, Morgan has projects in its home state of Texas, as well as in Missouri, Arizona and California.

The proposed luxury multi-family development in Pompano Beach is yet another installment in a trend where vast shopping complexes are giving way to new uses as consumers opt to shop online instead of driving to crowded malls and big box stores.

“I think shopping center owners are recognizing they have good pieces of land in good locations,” said Hugo Pacanins, Morgan’s regional development partner for South Florida. “Bringing residential to that existing mix accomplishes everything. You’re activating the center and bringing 24-7 people to the shopping center. It’s a trend we’re seeing nationally. You’re starting to see a lot of these projects being delivered in Pompano Beach and doing really well. I think that will bring new life to the area.”

But the face of commercial life in the Pompano Citi Centre neighborhood has changed along with a major overhaul in retailing. Macy’s shut the Pompano store last spring as part of a plan to streamline its operations amid sizable financial losses nationwide. That left an opening for the Morgan Group to buy over 12.1 acres of land — most of it from Macy’s and a portion of the mall parking lot from the shopping center owners. The developer has yet to set any prices, sizes or layouts for the apartments. But the buildings will be four stories in height with views of the nearby municipal golf course.

“We’ll have a big range of units from studios to three bedrooms,” Pacanins said.

After gaining its first green light in a lengthy approval process, Morgan will make “minor adjustments” to its application, which will then move to the Planning and Zoning Board for a public hearing in January, a city spokeswoman said.

The city’s board is currently targeting Jan. 27, 2021, for a public hearing. The full City Commission would then have to give its approval, and a Broward County land-use plan needs to be changed to reflect the proposed new land use to “irregular residential.” It is currently zoned commercial.

The review committee also has urged Morgan to communicate with residential neighbors who live north of Copans Road, which borders the northern edge of the Citi Centre.

“One of the advantages this site has is we’re abutting a golf course and it’s adjacent to a shopping center,” Pacanins said. “Traffic is always a concern, but there will be a lot less traffic than what Macy’s was generating. We’ve still got a long way to go and looking forward to getting this deal started in 2022.”


Source: SunSentinel

Changes made to the Comprehensive Plan will now allow self-storage buildings to be exempt from commercial cap space in the Ag Reserve.

When is a 130,000 square-foot, three-story self-storage facility not a commercial business? When it’s in the Ag Reserve.

With the Ag Reserve already at a commercial square-foot cap of 1 million square feet, the builder’s agent, Ken Tuma, came up with a novel approach: Exempt self-storage buildings from the commercial cap.

The reserve was designed as a sanctuary for farming and a rural lifestyle, but much land has still been developed there as western property has boomed in Palm Beach County.

County planning commissioners, urged on by the Planning Commission staff and the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations (COBWRA), agreed recently to recommend a change to the county’s Comprehensive Plan to accommodate a self-storage building on a 7-acre tract of land on the northwest corner of Boynton Beach Boulevard and Acme Dairy Road.

Because of the cap, the builder, Gary Smigiel of Lake Worth, was limited to a 40,000 square-foot commercial project, far less than the 130,000 square feet he needs for the self-storage building. He is proposing to build 20,000 square feet of commercial in addition to the self-storage. The commercial project will consist of retail and a restaurant. But the self-storage building won’t be considered commercial if the change to the Comprehensive Plan is made.

County commissioners are expected to act on the Planning Commission recommendation in 2020. Tuma told planning commissioners there is a real need for self-storage facilities as a number of large-scale developments have been built in recent years west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. Many of these communities prevent homeowners from storing items in their garages, he noted.

With limited space available for commercial development in the Ag Reserve, developers have yet to build a self-storage building.

The Ag Reserve is an area in the western end of the county with special rules designed to protect the region from over-development. It is the only part of the county with a cap on commercial development and a requirement that residential developers set aside a large portion of their property for open space.

Planning Commissioner Dagmar Brahs was a reluctant supporter of the “West Boynton Center” project. She said she is concerned about a precedent being set that could result in other self-storage facilities being built throughout the Ag Reserve.

“What we are doing here is making a change to accommodate a land user,” Brahs said. “That stinks.”

“To justify the zoning change, many retirees downsized when they moved into Ag Reserve developments,” Tuma said. “It is imperative for many of them to store some of their belongings in nearby self-storage facilities. Self-storage generates much less traffic than the majority of commercial uses permitted in the Ag Reserve.”

The site currently consists of a retail store, a small office and an apartment. The northern portion of the site is utilized for a nursery.

“COBWRA believes that the West Boynton Center is a good fit for the area,” COBWRA representative Steve Oseroff said. “It will serve as a book-end to the Cobblestone Commons commercial development just to the west on Boynton Beach Boulevard.”


Source: Palm Beach Post

the road to 2020

So 2019 is drawing to a close, having given the world of commercial real estate things we expected — like a booming industrial market — and things we didn’t (WeWork and opportunity zones were among the greatest flops of the decade).

Bisnow asked some South Florida real estate pros what 2020 may bring. Here are their thoughts:

Jeff Gordon, Vice President, JLL

“We have a number of interesting new office developments delivering or in the pipeline across Miami’s office market over the next few years. This will create variety and optionality not previously seen in Miami as it pertains to emerging submarkets, deepening options in changing submarkets and the way in which the office use is amenitized with other product types across the market as a whole. This variability will provide opportunities for tenants that approach their future leasing with a proactive strategy. In line with this, it will also be interesting to see the impact that the continued expansion of the Virgin Trains stations will have on the connectivity of Aventura and Boca with our Central Business Districts and the continued goal of connecting Florida’s growing talent and workforce.”

Tere Blanca, Founder and CEO, Blanca Commercial Real Estate

“Miami’s vibrant and diverse economy, its business-friendly environment (and tax advantages) and its convenient lifestyle and connectivity to the world via Miami International Airport will continue to spur the relocation to Miami of talented professionals and companies across various industries both domestically and internationally. Key factors driving this movement include this increase in people relocating here due to tax incentives including the lack of a state income tax. The strong population growth in the past five years, with continued projected growth, will continue to motivate companies to establish a presence in Miami. Also, the uncertain political climate in key Latin American countries may attract investment into Miami from these markets that include Mexico and other nations. With limited new office supply delivering in 2020 and robust demand from companies touring the market, we expect the market to remain stable and steady with positive absorption and modest increase in rents. Also, new office deliveries in 2020 will be well-received given Miami’s persistent flight-to-quality trend and this in turn will drive owners of older, existing buildings to undertake strategic renovations to remain competitive. With flight-to-quality prominent among tenants today, we expect new supply to attract tenants across various submarkets, while also attracting new-to-market entrants.”

Cory Yeffet, Director of Acquisitions, Integra Investments

“We expect multifamily development and sales to remain active in 2020. Although rent growth has slowed due in part to significant new supply, demand remaining strong and multifamily cap rates remaining at record lows will continue to support a healthy development and sales environment. This is why Integra continues to be active in the sector, with four multifamily projects under development in South Florida, including the 315-unit Bella Vista project in Lauderdale Lakes, which we intend to deliver and stabilize in 2020. The biggest commercial real estate concern we see for 2020 is the uncertain impacts of the election year, and how global economic and sociopolitical dynamics may slow down private sector expansions.”

Doug Jones, Co-founder and Managing Partner, JAG Insurance Group

“For about the last 10 years, rates have consistently gone down. But with the influx of natural disasters, reinsurance went up in 2019 and that will continue in 2020. That trickles down to the consumer. Also, while risk of sea level rise continues to be a concern, thanks to the recent expansion of the private flood market, consumers will actually have more options in 2020 than ever before to make sure their assets have the proper coverage.”

David Druey, Florida Regional President, Centennial Bank

“I predict minimal, if any, slowing down in deal flow of construction financing in any of the major sectors. Smart developers are seizing the opportunities of low interest rates through use of bank financing for construction financing and securing forward commitments with institution investors for stabilized projects. The ongoing major risk is if the developer can actually complete the project on time and budget. Most of the more substantial projects, outside of apartments, typically have the stabilization piece solved prior to construction commencement.”

Ronald Fieldstone, Partner, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr

“The new EB-5 regulations went into effect at the end of 2019 and we are still seeing increasing interest from investors, especially from Latin America, in the EB-5 program despite the higher threshold. Over the past 10 years, developers have grown dependent on raising EB-5 capital to finance their projects due to the low cost of EB-5 borrowing. We expect it to continue to remain a viable source of financing for development projects in downtown Miami west of Biscayne Boulevard, Little River, areas around Miami International Airport and certain sections of Coconut Grove.”

Stephen Rutchik, Executive Managing Director, Colliers International

“Although one of the original iterations of coworking, WeWork has collapsed on a corporate level, I expect that the concept and most of the existing locations will continue to perform well over the next year. On a larger scale, office landlords in South Florida are increasingly incorporating the coworking concept into existing office buildings. This is attracting new tenants who previously would have either been priced out of traditional office space or who require flexibility that a traditional lease cannot provide. The coworking concept is much larger than WeWork. It has quickly become a part of the American office culture and I expect this trend to grow in the coming years.”

Adam Lustig, Partner and Incoming Real Estate Practice Group Leader, Bilzin Sumberg

“With continued low interest rates, increased employment and significant population growth, I expect the South Florida real estate market to remain strong in 2020. In particular, I see health-related real estate and senior housing as areas of opportunity with the aging of the population and the need for urgent care centers, hospitals, medical office space and senior housing facilities. As shopping center owners try to adapt to dramatic changes in the retail market, medical, health and wellness uses will continue to expand. The major threats to continued growth in South Florida remain traffic, lack of public transportation and affordable housing. One other threat that is not being talked about enough, but that we are very focused on, is the phase-out of Libor at the end of 2021 which affects trillions of dollars of commercial real estate loans.”

Chris Chakford, Managing Director of Origination, Kawa

“Kawa sees ground leases as an ongoing trend in 2020 as banks pull back on commercial fee simple financing in non-core markets, most notably in hospitality and office sectors. With sponsors needing creative solutions to fill out capital stacks and lessen their equity requirement, Kawa has created a ground lease program that offers a complete financing solution to meet these needs. This type of financing vehicle offers a highly adaptable bifurcation structure that accommodates owners’ needs while typically enhancing returns, providing tax benefits, being nonrecourse, and mitigating interest rate risk by offering perpetual financing. In the last three years, Kawa has executed 12 ground lease transactions with a total value in excess of $652M and anticipates ground leases to be a prominent alternative for providing creative financing solutions with flexible capital that can be deployed quickly as we look ahead into 2020.”

Peter Mekras, President of Aztec Group

“2020 is likely to be a year filled with volatility. Interest rates and the political environment both locally and nationally will be the main drivers of market volatility in 2020. Irrespective of the trend of volatility in 2020, we expect capital markets to remain liquid. Equity capital will continue to flow into Florida real estate in 2020. Florida will maintain its label as one of the few states positioned for strong long-term fundamentals and a uniquely favorable business environment for real estate investors. Florida is projected to experience better than national trend employment growth and will continue to benefit from strong population growth. Rental apartments, senior housing and well-located office and shopping centers will be the beneficiaries.”

Lissette Calderon, President and CEO of Neology Life Development Group

“Allapattah is seeing significant residential and commercial real estate investment underway that will enhance the neighborhood’s appeal and quality-of-life offerings. With Miami’s growing population seeking lifestyle living alternatives within the urban core at attainable price points, our mission is to provide a solution to this need by developing attainable luxury rental units that are modern, functional and offer upscale amenities.”

Michael C. Brown, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Skanska USA Florida

“Come the new year, I anticipate the two sectors poised to fuel Miami’s economic growth will be healthcare and higher education, which continue to be the largest sectors for us across the state and in South Florida. I believe we will also continue to see a more pronounced shift into environmentally friendly building, specifically with companies looking to minimize their carbon footprints.”

Martin Melo, Principal, The Melo Group

“2020 will prove to be a year full of challenges, mostly driven by the political landscape throughout Latin America, the upcoming elections and the increasingly low interest rates and low income tax in Florida. We can expect to see an influx of new residents who come to South Florida searching for a more attractive and stable socioeconomic climate as opposed to the current situation in their own countries. The demand for multifamily and market-rate apartments will continue to rise and interest rates will remain low, which will ultimately spark a bigger interest from developers and investors in the area.”

Shawn Gracey, Executive Vice President of Hospitality, Key International

“As the hospitality industry becomes increasingly diverse, there will be even more emphasis on presenting a unique value proposition to today’s travelers. We’ve found that our customer profile is seeking experience-based and design-driven accommodations in key coastline cities, which led us to develop the AC Hotel by Marriott in Fort Lauderdale Beach, which will be one of the newest, upscale select-service properties in the area when it’s delivered next year.”

Rishi Kapoor, CEO, Location Ventures

“Pointing to various indicators, the fortress submarkets of Miami’s luxury condo inventory are the prominent choice in 2020, compared to areas of oversupply. Foreign buyers will remain a challenge, despite promising pockets from target countries in Latin America; the true stability is in the end user, who traditionally purchases a primary residence rather than investment product, and is more likely to focus on lifestyle moves in the market. This is why more protected submarkets, such as Coral Gables, will be a strategic play, as we’re seeing a wave of retirees or empty nesters, coupled with growing families, seeking to place roots in a neighborhood with a thriving business environment, limited top-tier condo product and a historic record for stability.”

Miguel Díaz de la Portilla, Attorney, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr

“2020 will be an exciting year of American Dream Miami. We have our land use and zoning approvals in place and will be finalizing the design of the project, applying for administrative site plan approval, and moving forward with continuing to work on infrastructure. This will all be happening at a time when people from all over the world are beginning to experience the magnificence of American Dream Meadowlands in New Jersey. Triple Five just opened the entertainment center that serves as a sneak peek to how American Dream Miami will look and the tremendous benefit that it will have on our local economy.”


Source: Bisnow