Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

Sunny Isles Beach is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida with a population of 15,315 (2000). It lies on a barrier island roughly halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, offering 2.5 miles of beaches. The Atlantic Ocean forms the City’s eastern border and the Intracoastal Waterway creates its western boundary.

The first transfer in the TDR program adopted by Sunny Isles Beach, Florida resulted in Town Center Park, shown here.

In 2001, Sunny Isles Beach started a TDR program to assist in the revitalization of its beachfront, Town Center and commercial areas in general as well as the preservation of natural resources, historic/archeological sites, view corridors, open space and other properties of public benefit. Sending sites can be privately-owned properties which an owner deeds to the City as parkland in return for development rights. The City can also sever TDRs from parkland already owned by the City as long as the parks in question were created after the City was incorporated. TDRs are transferred as square footage of floor area. The floor area transferable from a sending site is the maximum square footage permitted by zoning on the subject parcel.

Receiving sites can be located in the Town Center, the Business District abutting Collins Avenue and the Mixed Use High-Density/Resort Zoning Districts. TDRs can be used to increase density up to 30 percent greater than the maximum allowed by zoning and up to the development capacity for the site set forth in the Comprehensive Plan. Projects using TDR must comply with all development requirements (with the exception of density) or must separately receive approval for any needed variances. The City establishes the per-square-foot-of-floor area sales price for TDRs in its TDR bank by appraising the receiving site and dividing that appraised value by the square feet of floor area permitted by zoning on the receiving site.

The City approves sending and receiving sites. The City Commission may approve, modify or deny a receiving site application based on five criteria including capacity of public service systems, consistency with the goals of the program and compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.

When Sunny Isles Beach first adopted its TDR ordinance, the owner of the land that is now Town Center Park donated the property to the city in return for 566,737 square feet of TDRs. That property owner sold these TDRs to developers wanting to exceed height and density limits for two condominium projects. Since then, according to an article in the August 27, 2006 online edition of the Miami Herald, Sunny Isles Beach has generated roughly $35 million using TDR. The same article reported that the City used $19.6 million in revenue generated by TDR sales in 2006 to purchase another park.