As we consider proposals to make changes to the Coral Gables Zoning Code, it is important to strategically plan for the long-term development of the downtown area, especially Miracle Mile.
What makes the City of Coral Gables special is its small-town feel and charming streets like Miracle Mile. Although it is important to incorporate thoughtful planning measures to ensure economic longevity, I do not believe that we should compromise the controlled height that makes Miracle Mile so iconic. For this reason, I strongly believe that we should preserve the historic integrity of this area and not allow developers to build projects of massive scale with higher density and intensity.
Since its early inception in the 1920s, Miracle Mile has never exceeded four stories. As the new zoning code is being updated, the proposed changes would allow for remote parking combined with height and density formulas on Miracle Mile. According to the new code proposal, current single-story parcels can re-develop up to six stories (70 feet) in height.
There is a correlation between the permissible Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and massing. For this reason, I am advocating to reduce the permissible FAR from 4.375 to between 3.0 to 3.5. A reduction in FAR will ensure that proposed new buildings will fall in line with today’s current standards. It will also allow developers and property owners to redevelop their properties without having to construct the required parking. Ultimately, this will result in significant cost-savings on construction and long-term maintenance.
As Coral Gables continues to be listed as one of the most desirable places to live, it has drawn international acclaim for a reason. Namely because we value and recognize that our history and preservation is at the core of our identity. Destinations like Charleston, SC, Savannah, GA, Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive – all share one thing in common with Coral Gables, which is their height restrictions and the controlled scale of their buildings on their Main Street.
I acknowledge that Miracle Mile, to a certain degree, needs to be redeveloped in order to draw business to its shops and compete with other shopping destinations; however, increasing height is not a solution. Instead, there are many options and alternatives that can be explored which can potentially be a win-win for both the residents and developers. The key is thoughtful planning, not out of scale planning.
Before we move forward with the process regarding the Coral Gables Zoning Code rewrite, specifically relating to Miracle Mile and the Crafts Section, I have requested that City staff host a community workshop for Coral Gables residents and community members to allow them to voice their concerns and/or feedback pertaining to the zoning code rewrite. This will be taking place on November 30 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
For many years, I have stressed the importance of obtaining community feedback whether it’s been at my Town Hall Meetings, open door office hours, or social media platforms – the voice of residents has always been a priority. Before moving forward with major changes that can potentially impact the quality of life of residents, I look forward to their input because it is especially important when such transformational changes are considered.