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Miami Beach Weighs A Hotels Moratorium

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Miami Beach, the county’s visitor magnate for a century, is considering a moratorium on adding hotel rooms.

A discussion headed to the city commission’s Land Use and Sustainability Committee is to weigh repeal of floor area ratio incentives for hotel developments, a cap on hotel rooms based on zoning districts, and a recently enacted New York model for addressing the limits on approvals for hotels.

The city commission approved a market study researching the correct balance of residents and hospitality in Miami Beach in December 2021.

“The reason why I commissioned this study is [because] I think that you hit a fine line when you cross over a certain amount of hotel rooms versus residential, and studies like this have been done in other communities.… I wanted to get this presentation and have a robust discussion. We might have to recommission this study,” said Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who brought the discussion to the city commission in December.

“I think it’s a very different commission,” she said at that meeting. “I think that … the former commission was a lot more excited about building thousands more hotel rooms and the reason I commissioned this study was so that we would stop…. We’re going to… flood the market now with an additional 800 rooms when the new Convention Center hotel hits.”

In addition to Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez’s initial item, the complexity of the topic interlaced with other commissioners’ talking points.

A discussion to repeal the floor area ratio incentive for hotel development in areas like the commercial district was approved to be sent to the Land Use and Sustainability Committee, said Commissioner Alex J. Fernandez.

“I think that’s going to be important, sending a big message when we repeal an incentive like that that right now incentivizes hotel development, and we’re going to be discussing that at Land Use,” he said. “We also approved a referral to the Land Use Committee on another item to establish a cap on the maximum number of hotel rooms that may be developed in particular zoning districts.

“As part of that discussion,” he said, “we’re looking to limit which zoning districts permit hotels, increasing the minimum and average unit size potentially for hotel rooms because that’s one of the ways through which we can limit hotel development and promote more permanent residential development and limit the density of new hotel rooms in the city.”

Commissioner Fernandez suggested that the discussions are “all alike and almost belong together at the Land Use Committee” and could be referred a single conversation.

In the December meeting, commissioners pointed to 21,000 hotel rooms in the city and a little over 2,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline to be built.

Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez used the statistics to showcase her point.

“You’ve got an additional 2,000 rooms including the Convention Center hotel, which would take us to 23,000,” she said. “I would say after listening to this we consider a possible moratorium and then the city can possibly absorb more hotel rooms, but right now we are suffering economically. Across South Beach, there’s rooms at $40 … a night.”

“I believe in supply and demand,” said Commissioner Joseph Magazine. “I believe that our ecosystem is out of whack, and I want that to be data dependent and data driven. For years, ever since 2017 when the state and local tax reform was passed that actually was the catalyst for the wealth migration out of high tax states like New York, Illinois, California, and the entire rest of our region benefited from that, we just continue adding… hotel[s], whether that leads to a moratorium or something else.

“We need to address this,” Mr. Magazine said. “It needs to be data driven. We are not adding full-time residential housing. That’s a fascinating stat that we have about 20,000 hotel rooms. We’re increasing our capacity by 10%.”

Some sort of action must be taken, said Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez. She suggested a case-by-case system whereby “if anybody wanted to build a hotel, and they had some ridiculous vision that was not permitted and they had a new use,” she said, “they could come before us and they could ask for special permission. But I would like to stop it. Because I don’t think we need any more hotel rooms right now.”

“That [Gonzalez case by case idea] actually segways into a conversation I’ve had with legal,” said Commissioner Magazine. “It didn’t make the December agenda, because we’re still fleshing out the legal viability of that, but New York City, just in recent years, actually said you can no longer build a hotel as of right. It has actually come to their version of the city council, and I would entertain something like that because I don’t know if I’d buy into a complete moratorium for a six-star hotel in the Faena district, on the waterfront where room rates are $1,200 a night … sure, maybe that adds to things.”

“However, more infill hotels in the middle of Collins Park or other areas that should be dedicated and provide incentives for full-time residential housing,” he said, “essentially, an ordinance like that, which I’m going to continue to discuss with legal actually would provide a case-by-case basis. I don’t want to say that we would make exceptions, but for a certain period of time, we could even say until the Convention Center is built – I originally had three to five years but I think maybe that’s a great leeway – that any hotel application actually has to be approved by the City Commission and could no longer be done as of right.”


Source:  Miami Today

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