from the Daily Business Review:
The state of Florida has approved Doral’s first comprehensive master plan, and major redevelopment projects under way in the 4-year-old city dominated by warehouses, houses and strip malls will follow the plan’s guidelines.
Flagler Development Group plans to tear down most of the former Koger Center office complex to make way for a 120-acre mixed-use Downtown Doral project east of the Doral Golf Resort and Spa.
High-density development plans call for 2,840 residential units, 180,000 square feet of retail space and 400,000 square feet of offices. About 465,000 square feet of existing office space would stay in place.
The development with a seven- to 10-year construction plan is a joint venture between JPMorgan Asset Management Real Estate and Flagler, which absorbed Armando Codina’s development company last year.
About five buildings in the Doral Center, formerly Koger, already have been demolished, and at least 20 more buildings encompassing 1.1 million square feet will come down in the 31-building office park, city planning director Nathan Kogon said.
The downtown project will be bounded by Northwest 79th and 87th Avenues, 54th Street and Doral’s White Course.
The first phase includes a 16-story residential building featuring condos, a four-story residential building with 224 condo units, and a 70,000-square-foot office condo building at 79th Avenue and 53rd Street.
Under the comprehensive plan, the “downtown mixed-use” zone limits building heights to 14 stories and density of 35 units per acre.
Flagler Development would have to amend the plan and receive City Council approval to build the two extra stories, Kogon said.
He expects the project will break ground early next year, depending on the pace of sales. Flagler launched the sales center and campaign a few weeks ago. Completion is expected 20 to 24 months after construction begins.
The comprehensive plan would make Downtown Doral 30 percent to 70 percent residential and offices. Retail space cannot exceed 20 percent.
Projects smaller than 15 acres don’t have minimum housing requirements but may not exceed the 20 percent limit.
“Ultimately, we want to keep a balance, but the ranges are flexible to anticipate changes in the market,” Kogon said.
Ultimately, Downtown Doral would have a traditional Main Street with shops and cafes and a centerpiece called Paseo Doral, a pedestrian boulevard 1,600 feet long and 150 feet wide, said Cristina Planas, a spokeswoman for the project.
Downtown Doral should include a park of at least 3.5 acres and a school. The City Council will play a role in deciding whether the school will be public or private, he said.
A new city hall may be included. But Kogon said talks are preliminary.
The city currently leases 27,000 square feet in a Doral Center building for its city hall.
“That’s one of the newer buildings. It will stay there for a while,” Kogon said.
Planas said the idea is still in the concept stage.
“We would be thrilled to have a permanent city hall as the centerpiece of our civic component,” she said. “We have had some preliminary conversations with the city of Doral, but no details have been determined at this time.”
Kogon envisions a downtown similar to Coral Gables and different from Miami Lakes and Boca Raton’s Mizner Park, where most buildings look similar.
“The great thing about this plan is we didn’t design every single building and told the developer what it’s supposed to look like,” Kogon said. “Instead, we did the framework. We created an urban design guideline.”
Despite the numerous existing stores and restaurants in the area, Planas said redevelopment will impact how retail is perceived in the city.
“It is not a strip center or a shopping mall,” she said. “This is a traditional, pedestrian-friendly main street. A good comparable to what we envision is Miracle Mile in Coral Gables.”
Another major project in the area is the 52-acre Park Square, which will include 930 residential units plus 150,000 square feet of retail and 200,000 square feet of commercial space, Kogon said.
Minor site work has been started on the five-year project and managers are in the final stages of obtaining building permits and receiving site approval for the commercial portion.
The project is being developed by Shoma Homes at the former Ryder System compound off Northwest 36th Street southeast of the downtown site.
The projects will potentially decrease the amount of traffic in the congested area, rather than making it more crowded, Kogon said.
Some rush hour drives down 36th Street between the Palmetto Expressway and Florida’s Turnpike can stretch to 45 minutes.
“The internal capture of residential and commercial will reduce the amount of trips. We are not increasing traffic. We are replacing it,” he said. “People will have an opportunity to live here and walk to a restaurant. I don’t think there is a suburb that will have a downtown area as developed as ours.”