Maria Luisa Castellanos
Want to build on a small lot in the City of Miami? I can help with that!
Typically, parking will determine the allowable number of units or the maximum allowable buildable area in Miami according to Miami21, the City of Miami’s zoning code. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
People who want to build small buildings in the city may not be familiar with all the intricacies of the zoning code. If you are interested in building a small building in the City of Miami, this article is for you.
The zoning designations for urban areas that will include residential units, commercial space, or both are T3, T4, T5, T6-8, T6-12, and T6-24. In all these designations, you have a maximum lot coverage that ranges from 50% to 80% of the lot's square footage. However, in the T6s there is also a requirement for Floor Lot Ratio (FLR). For the T6 designations, the FLRs vary from 5 to 8 with a possibility for more area if public amenities are provided.
The maximum lot coverage is the footprint of the building. So, if you have a 50’ x 100’ or 5,000 square foot lot, and the maximum lot coverage is 50%, then the maximum footprint of the building would be 2,500 square feet.
In a T6 designated area, if the FLR is 5, then on that same lot, you could build 25,000 (5,000’ x 5) square feet of building area. So, using these two parameters, the logic would tell you that 5 stories could be built, each 2,500 sq. ft. But this is not necessarily true!
The way zoning works in the city code, depending on the use of the building, parking is required. For example, for residential units, there is a requirement of a minimum of 1.5 parking spaces per dwelling unit and additional parking for visitors. In T6-8, a minimum of 3 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of office space will be required. For other T6 designations, there is a smaller requirement but not by much.
So, let’s say that with that same 25,000 square feet of building, the ground floor of 2,500 square feet would be retail and 22 dwelling units above. We would need 3 parking spaces for the ground floor and 33 additional spaces for the residential units. Will 36 parking spaces fit on the ground floor with the building? No. If we got rid of all the ground floor retail, could we fit 33 parking spaces on the ground floor? No way. Depending on the other factors that come into play, the likely parking count on this lot would be around 10 spaces. And this depends on a variety of things – the entrance and exit, the position of the columns for the building above, how the parking is shielded from the street, etc.
What does this mean? Although it is zoned T6-8, you can maybe build 10,000 square feet of residential space, if you can fit in all the other requirements for bicycles, green area, etc. So just because a building has a T6-8 Zoning designation, check the zoning before you buy it. Do not pay for it as though you can build 8 stories when you can maybe build two or three.
Are there exceptions to this?
1. The parking ratio may be reduced within ½ mile radius of TOD and within ¼ mile radius of a Transit Corridor by thirty percent (30%) by process of Waiver, except when the site is within 500 feet of T3.
2. Parking may be provided by ownership or lease offsite within 1000 feet by process of Waiver, except when the site is within 500 feet of T3.
3. Contributions to a fund in lieu of parking are being considered, but the city has never actually determined the actual contribution requirement. So, this is not an option currently.
4. In T6-60 & T6-80, parking for residential uses located within 1,000 feet of a Metrorail or Metromover station shall not be required.
5. There are areas of Miami that allow for no parking if the building is less than 10,000 square feet. The City of Miami Zoning Administrator, Daniel Goldberg, Esq. says, "They continue to exist by right in the UCBD, DDA, OMNI, and SEOPW CRAs, NCD-2, and in any federal opportunity zone. See the asterisk and the bottom of each table in Article 4, Table 4 for the actual list. Wynwood NRD-1 has it by right for up to 20,000 square feet."
So, if you are a small developer and would like to invest in a small building, investigate these areas designated above and any area that is an Opportunity Zone. Look into Wynwood and see if there are any affordable areas left. Call me if you would like help purchasing a property or designing a building at 305-439-7898.
Maria Luisa Castellanos, R.A., LEED AP, Realtor, is the principal of United Architects, Inc., a Miami architecture firm. If you are interested in reading more about building in Miami, read more articles here on her blog at www.UnitedArchitectsInc.com/Blog