Miami Zoning Code Impacts Building Along Miami River Suzanne Hollander Professor Real Estate
Property owners on the Miami River should know the impact of the City of Miami’s new zoning code to understand the value of their property. The new code, Miami 21, took effect 8 months ago and completely overhauls the previous zoning regulations of the past 20 years. I help the owners understand the highest value of their property and who to target as a potential purchasers subject to the new code.

Properties on the Miami River are centrally located on Miami’s “Main Street” on the water.The Miami River links the Atlantic Ocean to the Everglades.It also links the Miami oftoday – a thriving central business district and dense urban core full of residential condos – with the Miami of the future – the Billion Dollar University of Miami Life Science Park (a 10 acre complex that will be a magnet for international bio research) an the Billion Dollar New Marlins stadium, both within minutes of the Miami River.
The application of the new zoning code to the Miami River presents a tangible case study of how zoning addresses property rights on private property through a cross section of Miami.For this reason, I organized an event with the Director of the City of Miami Planning Department, Francisco Garcia and the Director of the Miami River Commission, Brett Bibeau, to join me in presenting this case study to Florida International University Graduate Real Estate Students entitled “Zoning Out on the Miami River.”In preparation for the case study, I led approximately 70 students on a private Miami River Property tour where we visually examined the properties on the Miami River and discussed their zoning and land use with the Director of the Miami River Commission and the The Miami Dade Property Appraiser – the Honorable Pedro Garcia.We experienced zoning in action.
The Miami River is recognized as an authentic location in Miami with a mixed use character – high rise residential, low rise residential (single family homes) and industrial all side by side.It was determined that high rise residential is no longer a compatible use right next to industrial marine and buffer zones are needed.During past 10 years, approximately 14,500 new residential units and 46 buildings were built along the River.This increase in residential density – right next to marine industrial uses and low rise residential uses substantially changed the character of the Miami River.
According to the Director of the City of Miami Planning Department, the new zoning code better protects the Miami River from the “attack of residential developers.”Miami 21, the new code, imposes height reductions on properties located West of Interstate 95.Many Miami River owners will find that the permissible heights of their buildings have been reduced.For example, many properties along the Miami River close to the Health and Civic District are now zoned T6- 8-O.This designation means that the property may be built up to 8 stories in height with an allowed density of 150 units per acre, by right.As early as last year, before the implementation of this code properties were allowed to be built to skyscraper heights, subject to the Federal Aviation Administration approval.
Owners may apply for a zoning designation upgrade – this process changed from the former code –changes may only be to the next designation, go through the Director, the City Commission and are now scheduled to be heard twice a year.
The rationale for the implementation of the height restrictions is to encourage developers to make full use of the urban core and to protect single family and duplex area locations.
Another new zoning category along the Miami River is T4 – this zoning designation allows the owner to built up to 4 stories with a maximum of 36 units per acre.Prior to the implementation of this code, some these properties were allowed double the density- 64 units per acre.
The new zoning code makes public river walk requirements stronger.The new code expands and widens the requirement for a riverwalk from 25 to 50 feet.New developments must provide a publically accessible river walk that is 50 feet from the mean high water line of any waterfront.This applies to properties with over 200 feet in depth, properties of less depth must provide a minimum of 25% of the lot depth.The rationale for this is that the public enjoyment of the riverwalk and waterfrontage will increase the value of the property – just like the public waterfrontage in major cities around the world like London and Paris and even like the successful public baywalk in South beach’s luxury “South of Fifth” neighborhood.
Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about the value of your property on Miami River and the potential to apply for a zoning designation upgrade under the new zoning code.


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