Hearing effusive praise from dozens of supporters who showed up at City Hall, Miami’s zoning board unanimously approved a set of zoning changes that will let the sprawling Miami Worldcenter project move forward.
The unanimous vote Wednesday night came after a long discussion on an item deferred from a meeting two months ago after board members and opponents raised concerns about the project.
The 25-acre project north of downtown Miami will include 765,000 square feet of retail and commercial space as well as residences and hotels.
The zoning changes include an overhaul of design standards that increases the allowable intensity of the development and switch many potential future changes to staff rather than board review. The definition of some project elements also was modified to allow them be built in a manner more akin to what developer Miami Worldcenter Associates is envisioning.
About two dozen speakers, including business and civic leaders, developers not related to the project and downtown Miami residents spoke in favor of the project. A handful of area residents and two business owners expressed concerns about the zoning changes.
Among the most contentious was a change that would redefine what urban “paseos” would look like. Previously, they were envisioned as open pedestrian areas. Under the changes, the developer will be allowed to build an air-conditioned shopping mall that would be locked at night and still get credit for open space.
The zoning changes go before the city commissioners next week.