June 7th, 2012
The Miami Herald
esign District gets Preliminary Nod from Miami's Planning Board
by ndres Viglucci
Miami's planning, zoning, and appeals board on Wednesday unanimously endorsed developer Craig Robins' ambitious plan to create a mini-Lincoln Road Mall in the heart of the Design District, part of his strategy to turn the once-dormant neighborhood into an ultra-high-end retail destination.
In two 9-0 votes, the board recommended that the City Commission approve land-use changes and Robins' proposed "special area plan," which covers 51 Design District properties controlled by his development company, DACRA. Those holdings, though not contiguous, comprise more than 60 percent of the district.
Board members praised the scheme for preserving the low scale of the Design District, augmenting public spaces and enhancing the pedestrian environment while working to win support from residents of the adjacent Buena Vista East historic district.
"This is a project done right, and any developer who is thinking about developing in the city of Miami should take this as a lesson," board member Patrick Goggins said.
Robins - who has lured high-fashion brands, like Hermes and Louis Vuitton, away from the Bal Harbour Shops - wants to build an open-air pedestrian passageway lined with luxury retailers and cafes from Northeast 38th to 42nd streets.
The planning board's vote is advisory. The plan, developed in consultation with city planners to conform with the pedestrian-friendly Miami 21 code, will go to the City Commission for the first of two public hearings in July.