Miami, population 408,750 (2011) is at the center of a metropolitan area with 5.5 million people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in the southeastern United States. In 1981, Miami-Dade County adopted an East Everglades Ordinance aimed at preserving this area of Critical Environmental Concern because it recharges the Biscayne Aquifer, provides surface water supply to Everglades National Park, creates flood storage capacity, maintains water quality, protects the economic vitality of Dade County and contains numerous natural features including 30 listed species. For a detailed profile of the East Everglades TDR program, please see The TDR Handbook (Island Press, 2012).
Subsequently, the City of Miami adopted a Public Benefits Program (Section 3.14) that allows bonus building height and FLR in various zones when developers contribute specified benefits. The historic preservation public benefit occurs at off-site locations, meaning not at the site of the building where the bonus height and FLR will be used. Consequently, this is a TDR mechanism. Specifically, owners of nationally or locally designated landmarks in a T4-O or higher zone or a designated multiple family residential building in a T4-R can transfer “unused floor area” meaning the difference between the maximum floor area allowed by zoning and the actual floor area of the existing landmark. As detailed below, the Affordable/Workforce Housing and Public Park/Open Space benefits can be provided either on or off-site. When they are provided off-site, the mechanism is essentially a form of TDR.
The receiving sites are properties in the T-6 transect zones that do not abut a T3 zone or properties in the T6-8 Zone that do not abut a CS zone. There are ten T-6 zones. The lowest-density T6 zone is the T6-8 with an 8-story and FLR 5 baseline that can be increased to 12 stories with a 25 % FLR bonus via TDR. The highest-density T6 zone is the T6-80 with an 80-story and FLR 24 baseline that can be increased to an unlimited number of stories with a 50 % FLR bonus via TDR. In addition, bonus building heights and/or FLR are available in four other situations when developers provide specified public benefits.
Section 3.14.2 states that the Public Benefit Program is the only way that baseline can be exceeded. In addition to historic preservation, public benefits that qualify building for bonus height and FLR include affordable/workforce housing, Public Parks and Open Space, Green Buildings, Brownfield restoration and Civic Space or Civil Support space.
When affordable/workforce housing is provided on site two bonus square feet are allowed per square foot of affordable/workforce housing. One bonus square foot at the receiving site is allowed per square foot of affordable/workforce housing built offsite.
The receiving site is allowed one bonus square foot for each square foot of on-site Public Park or Open Space or two bonus square feet for each square foot of Public Park or Open Space provided at a location selected by the City (presumably off site.)
Bonuses for Green Building (LEED Silver, Gold and Platinum), Brownfield restoration and Civic Space/Civil Support space do not involve TDR since the benefit, as defined by the Miami-Dade County code, only occurs at the site of the development.
Developers have the option of making a cash contribution rather than actually building Affordable/Workforce Housing or providing Public Parks/Open Space. The required amount of the cash contribution is calculated from the real estate values of the area surrounding the receiving site. All cash contributions are deposited in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Parks and Open Space Trust Fund.