CLIENT NEWS: Allapattah project on city land builds in a public library

June 6, 2024

A developer plans a mixed-use residential project on city-owned property bringing workforce and affordable housing to Allapattah, together with a new public library in the same building.

Dulce Vida Apartments LLC, the contract purchaser and developer of the site at 1785 NW 35th St., plans to build eight-story Dulce Vida Allapattah that will be home to 230 residential units.

The project, which will have city funding, includes an adjacent parking garage for up to 372 vehicles.

The existing Allapattah Branch Library, which is about 5,000 square feet, will be replaced by a new 8,494-square-foot library.

The city’s Urban Development Review Board unanimously recommended approval with two conditions: Reevaluate the design of the entrance to the library on the northeast corner of the building to enhance and celebrate the library entrance, and ensure the treatment of the garage façade conceals all internal elements, in coordination with city staff.

The developer needs a special warrant approval to build a “community facility”; the public library, as required by the Miami 21 zoning code.

The site is between Northwest 36th and 35th streets and east of Northwest 18th Avenue. It consists of nine separately platted lots that are under developed with a one-story library constructed in 1963 and approximately 109 off-street parking spaces.

The site has vehicular access on Northwest 18th Avenue and Northwest 35th Street.

Melissa Tapanes Llahues, an attorney representing the developer, said the overall development will include 310,664 square feet of floor lot ratio.

In a letter to the city she wrote: “The project responds to the existing context of the area, which is surrounded by a variety of uses and is in close proximity to Miami Jackson Senior High School. Many students currently utilize the library’s services and will be able to continue to take advantage of the library in close proximity through approval of this warrant.

“The project contributes to the area’s pedestrian experience with improved streetscape and beautiful new, urban architecture.

“The proposed structure will enhance the area, increase pedestrian activity and encourage use of a beautiful new library … Project will beautify the pedestrian experience and provide sufficient parking and maneuverability within the site,” she wrote.

Along with the new garage, the Miami Parking Authority has confirmed that there will be 15 on-street spaces available to the project.

Emily K. Balter, an attorney representing the developer, told the review board the City of Miami owns the property.

In November 2022, the city commission approved a development plan for the site that requires workforce and affordable housing, she said.

The commission recently approved $15 million for the project from the city’s affordable housing bond program.

The apartments will be marketed as follows:

■40% of the units at 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

■34% of the units at 100% of the AMI.

■26% of the units at 120% of the AMI.

The project is designed by architectural firm Behar Font & Partners. Javier Font, with the firm, described some of the details of the overall project to the board.

“This is a great site,” he said.

The new structure will rise on the long and narrow property, he said, and the library will be built into the corner of the main structure, with some studio units on the ground floor as well.

Mr. Font said the U-shaped building helps to create a great courtyard in back, with all amenities at the ground floor facing the courtyard area.

He said the project includes “a ton of balconies,” screening for the garage levels, and artistic murals including an eight-story tall mural on one side.

The main entrance includes the leasing offices.

“Very thorough presentation,” said board member Agustin Barrera.

“It’s good to see projects like this built in these neighborhoods. This is one of the areas that really needs this type of housing. We keep hearing about all the shortages for workforce and affordable housing, so it’s good to see projects like this,” he said.

Mr. Barrera said, “For such a long project I like the way the massing is broken up. The fact there are distinct entrances from where the library is happening and the residences.

“The only thing I think is a little challenging is the location of the elevator core. It’s such a long walk from one end to the other because you’re at one extreme … you basically have to walk the whole length of the building to get to the units,” he said.

Mr. Barrera added, “I like the murals, the shape of the building … overall, I think it’s a good project and really needed in that area.”

Board member Lidia Ines Labrada said, ‘I agree … the massing, you’ve broken it up, and the treatment of the corner was very successful.

“I wish you would have carried a little more of the detail into that lobby entrance. It just seems like an afterthought … for the library. It was just like a voided corner there that’s been chamfered and not really thought out, as detailed as you’ve delineated the rest … if you could maybe revisit that entrance,” she said.

Mr. Font said, “We’d be happy to.”

She said, “You are capable, you’ve shown it on the rest of the project, so great job.”

Board chairman Ignacio Permuy said, “I really like to see these types of projects come before us; very much needed. Thank you for that, it’s a wonderful project.”

Speaking of the new public library, Mr. Permuy said, “This is a very special place that should be celebrated more and articulated more. You can enhance that, maybe you take that language from the entrance to the library and add more glazing, you make it taller.”

Published on June 4, 2024 on MiamiTodayNews.com

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