Short Term Vacant Storefront Covers
On July 27, 2018, to address immediate needs with vacant storefronts, the Finance Citywide Projects Committee (FCWPC) recommended that the City provide immediate funding for a storefront cover program, using existing City designs. On October 17, 2018, the Mayor and City Commission accepted this recommendation and allocated funding beginning with $35,000 for vacant storefront covers in North Beach.
In Mid-Beach, the Mayor's Ad Hoc Blue Ribbon 41st Street Committee (41st Street Committee) has been exploring the potential use of a portion of the $100,000 appropriated for the Short Term 41st Street Improvements project in FY 2018/19 from Mid-Beach Quality of Life Funds for storefront covers. (Note that, based on the 41st Street Committee recommendations, the Commission has authorized that $25,000 of these funds be used for a temporary parklet and is also exploring a host of other items host of other items such as lighting, artistic installations, etc.)
In addition, the Administration submitted a budget enhancement for $35,000 for Fiscal Year 2019/20 to address the vacant storefronts in South Beach within the Economic Development Department budget.
Staff is working to identify business and property owners who want to participate in the storefront covers program.
Vacant Storefront Cover Designs
During the October 26, 2018 Finance Citywide Projects Committee (FCWPC) meeting, the Committee was presented with Design and Architecture High School (DASH) student designs that had been initiated at the request of the 41st Street Committee. The recommendation was to ask the students to revise the designs to better reflect the Miami Beach essence, to ask the Communications team to assist with Miami Beach color plate as well as advise the students along with the Planning Department team. The direction was to return with the updated designs to FCWPC and to potentially use these designs citywide.
On February 22, 2019, the DASH student storefront cover designs were received by the City of Miami Beach. Economic Development, Communications and Planning teams reviewed the 20+ designs with respect to capturing the Miami Beach essence, color plate, ability to place the Miami Beach logo, information about how to contact the landlord, opaque enough for security, and aesthetically pleasing.
On February 6, 2019, the NCAC considered the designs and recommended all 5 designs to the full commission, although stating a preference for two designs. The final five (5) recommended designs are attached in Exhibit A for your review.
Vacant Storefront Ordinance
On November 14, 2018 based on the recommendation from the FCWPC on October 26, 2018, the Mayor and City Commission also directed staff to amend the storefront ordinance to provide for the owners of the storefront to pay for covers (similar to what is done in Surfside) and the City would provide a portfolio of designs (e.g. the DASH designs) as well as assistance with the installation of the covers (done by the company providing the covers) so they look professional and uniform.
Creation a storefront vacancy registry
At the October 26, 2018 FCWPC meeting, staff also recommended the creation of a vacancy registry that allows property owners and brokers to self-enroll when a property becomes vacant. This online portal will allow Staff to keep track and manage vacancies while allowing us to help recruit new businesses into those spaces. These properties could also then be tracked by Code Enforcement to ensure they are in compliance with the storefront window covering ordinance.
Staff is working on developing this registry. In the meantime, staff is continuing to work with Code Compliance to maintain a list of vacant of vacant properties
Activation of Vacant Storefronts
Curated Storefront Initiative: At the October 26, 2018, staff had presented an initiative to use our cultural anchors to curate vacant storefronts. The Economic Development Department has submitted a proposed enhancement for the funding for this initiative as part of the FY 2019/20 budget development
Pop-up Activations in Vacant Storefronts: Based on the new wide city wide initiative the city will begin issuing "Pop Up" Special Events Permits (PUSEP) to businesses interested in pressure testing the Miami Beach market for possible long-term activation. The premise was initiated from the belief that a long-term lease can act as a barrier to businesses looking to see if there is any appetite for them, within a specific geographic region or an activation with a short shelf life. Attached is LTC 067-2019, which provides a summary of the new process.
Potential Zoning changes to Provide Pink Zones and Encourage Small-Scale Manufacturing:
- Pink Zones: Designate key commercial corridors in a state of transition as a "pink zone". The City could pilot this concept out in either 41st Street, Washington Avenue and Town Center. By simplifying zoning and building codes we are apply to better support businesses to emerge.
- Encourage Small-Scale Manufacturing Review of current zoning regulations and expand the industrial/warehouse zoning allowance to other commercial corridors. Encouraging more small-scale manufacturing (textiles, breweries, coffee roasters, tech labs) on main streets can foster entrepreneurship and homegrown industries. These businesses create well-paying jobs for people with a variety of education and skills levels and brings vitality to commercial districts. This also helps diversify our employment base from just food and beverage.
The Administration will be examining these concepts as part of the proposed re-write of the zoning code.
Staff plans to reach out to property owners, businesses and business organizations through the future town hall meetings, business walks and visits, meetings, newsletters and other social media outlets to promote the program with the eventual goal to fill vacancies.