On January 16, 2019 at the request of Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman, the City Commission referred the discussion item to the Land Use and Development Committee (LUDC) (Item C4 AA). On March 6, 2019 the LUDC directed the administration to draft ordinances and recommended that the City Commission refer the ordinances to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.
On April 10, 2019 the City Commission referred the item to the Planning Board (Item C4 T).
On November 14, 2018, the City Commission adopted ordinance 2018-4224, establishing the Town Center – Central Core (TC-C) zoning district. Pursuant to the recommendations of the North Beach Master Plan, the ordinance allowed for a housing-type that is new to the City known as a co-living unit, which may also be known as a micro-unit.
Under the land development regulations (LDR’s), a co-living unit is a residential unit that is between 375 SF and 550 SF in size. The code requires that buildings with co-living units have a minimum of 20 percent of the gross floor area for amenity space. The ordinance also allows for a total of 312 co-living units within the TC-C district, which represents approximately ten percent (10%) of the total allowable units in the TC-C district.
Co-living and micro units are becoming increasingly common throughout urban cities in the United Sates. Due to their smaller sizes, it is expected that co-living units will have more attainable rents, while still providing a significant number of amenities for residents that allow for high levels of social interaction. They are shown to attract young professionals that are not looking for the expense and responsibilities of home ownership and retirees looking to downsize. Attracting such residents is desirable in order to encourage the economic development of the North Beach Town Center.
Pursuant to the Miami Beach 2025 Comprehensive Plan, there is a limitation of 150 dwelling units per acre within the TC-C district. A typical block north of 71st Street within the TC-C district contains approximately 75,250 SF or 1.73 Acres. At the density of 150 units per acre, a 1.73-acre site would allow for a maximum of 259 units. Since the TC-C district allows for a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 3.5, such site would allow for a maximum floor area of 263,375 SF. Under current regulations, a 375 SF co-living unit counts the same as a much larger conventional or luxury unit for density and planning purposes.
A floor area analysis of a 75,250 SF site in the TC-C district indicates that 259 co-living units, at 375 SF for each unit, would require approximately 97,172 SF of floor area for the units alone, and 111,748 SF of floor area including an additional 15% of floor area for circulation and back of house purposes. This represents approximately 42% of available floor area, leaving 151,627 SF or 58% of the available floor area for commercial uses and amenities. By contrast, in a building containing conventional residential units, with an average unit size of 700 SF per unit, the residential uses would require approximately 79% of the available floor area. As such, the lower utilization of overall FAR for a co-living building would likely leave more floor area available for other uses than a building with conventional residential units.
Due to the small size of co-living units, they will likely house fewer people than a conventional housing unit. For planning purposes, it is estimated that a conventional housing unit has 2.5 people per dwelling unit. A report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) entitled The Macro View on Micro Units indicates that the ability to live alone is one of the primary reasons for people to move into a co-living unit. Because of the size of a co-living unit and the expectation of more attainable rents, it is more likely that they will be made up of single-person households. Because a co-living unit is roughly half the size of a conventional unit, it can be estimated that the planning impact of a co-living unit will be half (1/2) that of a conventional unit, or approximately 1.25 people per dwelling unit.
If a co-living unit counted as half of a conventional unit, a 1.73-acre site could contain up to 518 co-living units. This would require approximately 194,344 SF for the units alone and 223,498 SF including an additional 15% of floor area for circulation and back of house purposes. This would also represent approximately 85% of the allowable floor area. Due to the requirement that 20% of the gross floor area be used for amenities, it is unlikely that a block will contain more than 490 co-living units, which would consume approximately 80% of the available floor area. 51,631 SF or 20% of the available floor area would be available for amenities, including some commercial uses.
Due to the lower population impact and lower floor area utilization rates associated with co-living units, the attached ordinance contains the following amendments to the LDR’s for the TC-C district:
1) Count a co-living unit as one-half (1/2) of a conventional unit for the purposes of calculating the maximum allowable density and population impact; and
2) Double the limit of co-living units within the TC-C district from a total of 312 units to 624 units.
The proposed amendment is not expected to result in a greater population impact than if those units were developed as conventional residential units. Since a single block will not be able to accommodate more than 518 co-living units, these modifications will likely result in the development of only one (1) major co-living building.
The corresponding text amendment to the comprehensive plan requires a minimum 30-day comment period by all applicable review agencies. Therefore, second reading / adoption of this amendment will need to be in July.
PLANNING BOARD REVIEW
On April 30, 2019, the Planning Board held a public hearing and transmitted the ordinance to the City Commission with a favorable recommendation, by a vote of 5-0.