RMA Builds Plan for Success in North Miami Beach

North Miami Beach was languishing — being strangled by traffic, while neighboring cities Sunny Isles and Aventura experienced unprecedented growth and economic development.  In need of a new vision, North Miami Beach called RMA to help them build a better future.

“We saw a city that needed a better plan in order to survive,” said Mayor George Vallejo. “North Miami Beach had sold their beachfront to the city of Sunny Isles, and while that town prospered and Aventura continued to attract high-end retailers and developers, all North Miami Beach received was tons of thru-traffic.”  This influx of traffic was not benefiting the city, so the Commission adopted a Strategic Plan with specific goals and objectives to create walk-able and transit-oriented mixed-use districts that address the beautification of the City and quality of life for their residents.

However, that also did not improve the core issue, so RMA was brought in to analyze the situation and realized they needed to build consensus and change the city building codes.

“The city has seven major districts that need to be revitalized (including four in the Community Redevelopment area), so we analyzed each one and developed a plan,” said Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed, RMA’s Director of Urban Design and Planning.

“There is huge potential here but there were several critical issues,” continued Alfonso-Ahmed. “Development was stifled by low height and density, even in areas where transit oriented development was desired.  The development pressure for more height and density resulted in endless debates and political maneuvering at Commission meetings. The projects that were coming forward were dense yet auto-oriented and did not enhance the character of the City with its well established street, park and waterway system.    The result was more development with no real plan for growth and no control of its valuable assets.”

RMA conducted numerous community meetings to build consensus and to alleviate the fears of increasing traffic further.

“How traffic would be impacted by increasing height and density was the biggest concern we addressed,” said Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed.  “They already had traffic volumes, but they were not benefitting from the growth, so a new strategy was needed.”

RMA devised a plan that would balance the density and height issues versus the incentives needed to attract new beneficial development and the expected public benefits from the new development.

“The Code did not address the public benefits,” said Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed “And we changed that.”

RMA took control of a dire situation and identified the problems, potential assets, the public needs and potential benefits and created a plan to change the codes and enforce them.  Due to this forward-thinking approach, the city of North Miami Beach already has developers starting the site plan process.

Follow us next month as we share our unique approach for building consensus in North Miami Beach.