As the new downtown development at One Curtiss Parkway (Springs Town Center) finally approaches completion, it appears they’ve had issues with the type of renters they allow. The Gateway Overlay District is supposed to attract new “retail” businesses like restaurants and retail stores. Here’s the exact language from Miami Springs’ Municipal Code:
Uses. The uses in the CBD (Central Business District) shall remain in effect for the Gateway District, except that hotels shall be prohibited in the Gateway District. Additionally, first floor uses along road rights-of-way shall be limited to restaurant and/or retail. The ground floor shall contain occupiable, air-conditioned space for permitted commercial uses with a minimum depth of 40 feet from the building façade for those portions of the building along road rights-of-way, except such features as, without limitation, driveways, utility infrastructure, colonnades and outside dining areas. Direct access to such uses and full storefront windows are encouraged. Upper floors may be commercial, office, residential, or a mix of residential, office, and commercial. The mixed-use ratio found in § 150.070 of the Code shall not apply to the Gateway District.
I believe I speak for most of Miami Springs wanting to see new retail establishments downtown. Who doesn’t want exciting new restaurants and stores in downtown Miami Springs?
However, adherence to the code also means turning down some would be renters. At last week’s Miami Springs City Council Meeting there were several local business owners who spoke up during open forum to express their interest in moving into the new building. These well meaning business owners represented medical services like dental offices and doctor’s offices. Who can blame them for wanting to move into the newest shiniest building with the best location in Miami Springs?
Yohana Hernandez, a MSSH alum and resident, spoke up about building a Pediatric Dental Office at the Springs Town Center.
Laura Cabrera spoke up in support of Dr. Hernandez and her efforts to open up at the Springs Town Center.
Maribel Martin, a 20 year resident and 14 year business owner, wants to grow her Med Spa business and move into the new building.
Dr. Francois Zayas, of Zayas Dental has been operating in Miami Springs for over 30 years. He lives down the street from the Springs Town Center. This would be a perfect location for him. Dr. Zayas stated:
“I’m trying to move in to the building. I think I’m moving in. There’s a big speed bump along the way. I don’t know why. I don’t understand what’s happening. I would really like some answers to this and for this to be resolved somehow.”
As you may recall, the Miami Springs City Planner, Chris Heid, was abruptly fired by former City Manager William Alonso at the end of May. No official reason for his firing was issued by the City of Miami Springs, but according to multiple sources, it had to do with the occupancy approvals for certain businesses to move into the Springs Town Center that did not qualify as retail.
I’ve got say, Doctor Zayas spoke up so nicely and politely. Can you imagine spending time, money, and energy to move your business…To think that everything is moving forward with the move and then to have that denied at the last minute? It’s different if the city would have denied it from the beginning. But to go through the whole process and thinking everything’s okay and then at the end have it denied is a punch to the gut. Yet Zayas couldn’t have had a nicer demeanor. (Lord knows I haven’t been that nice when speaking at open forum.)
Now let’s be honest. Medical offices are not restaurants. Medical offices are not retail stores. They are offices. Fantastic offices. Fantastic businesses. But they are offices. They are not retail.
To be clear, since day one of the Gateway Overlay District fiasco, we had advocated for an ordinance that would push for second and third floor professional offices (instead of residential) with first floor retail. Having busy offices (like medical offices) brings high paying jobs to downtown Miami Springs. It draws patients, clients, vendors, and others to the building consistently during weekday work hours. This becomes a huge benefit to the bottom retail operations that need to fill restaurant seats and stores with customers.
Instead, we’ve gotten a residential building with insufficient parking that will clog the streets with cars that don’t move often. And we have a new building that can’t accept great local businesses because they didn’t plan for it or thought the City of Miami Springs would let them lease to any business.
We truly feel bad for the local business owners that want to move to the new building. It appears they were told Yes they can move in only to later be told No you can’t move in. That’s totally wrong and deserving of someone losing their job.
Furthermore, put yourself in the position of these businesses. We don’t have a single Class A Office Building downtown except for the occupied Milam’s Markets headquarters on North Royal Poinciana Boulevard.
What options do these fantastic doctors and dentists have for something new in Miami Springs? Look around. Except for the Milam’s Markets headquarters, there isn’t a single modern office building anywhere in downtown Miami Springs.
The one golden opportunity we had to build a new office building that could serve the community for the next 50 years was turned into rental apartments.
Clearly there’s demand for high quality, professional office space downtown. Heck, the second and third floors of the Springs Town Center could have been used for Medical Offices that would have created high paying jobs and created a tenant mix that supports one another.
Obviously, that ship has sailed and we’ll be stuck with residential renters using street parking for the next 50 years.
As for the doctors trying to move their offices to a bigger and newer location in the heart of Miami Springs, I feel awful for what they’ve gone through. It’s not their fault.
Personally, I’d rather see a quality medical office than another CBD Smoke Shop. But retail is retail. And offices are offices.
The current code says “first floor uses along road rights-of-way shall be limited to restaurant and/or retail.”
If Miami Springs really wants to improve the retail mix downtown, then it is important that it follows the rules as set forth in the Gateway Overlay District for retail and restaurants.
Of course, if we find that the retail and restaurant rule doesn’t work, then, like any ordinance, it can be amended in the future to allow other uses as well.
That said, the Springs Town Center hasn’t opened up yet. There’s no reason to rush to change the allowable uses so that the new developer can fill up the spaces as quickly as possible only to flip the property and get out of town just as quickly.
What do you think?
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