The future of a 10-acre palm tree nursery is up for grabs in Doral.
Is the lush acreage — located between 107th Avenue and 109th Avenue along Northwest 41st Street — destined for 800,000 square feet of office space plus 77 residential units, as it is under the current land-use plan, or will it house 250 rental apartments?
That’s what Doral City Council members will discuss on Wednesday. They’ll be taking a preliminary vote on whether to change the land use from business and office/residential to high density residential.
The land is under contract for purchase by Codina Partners, the development firm that built Downtown Doral, a thriving mixed-use city center, and 2020 Salzedo, a luxury high-rise apartment community in Coral Gables. The purchase of the land is contingent on Wednesday’s vote.
Codina’s project — dubbed Doral 4200 — includes four five-story residential buildings with a total of 250 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The residential community will be very similar to the firm’s 2011 project, Signature at Doral — now known as The AMLI, a 14.5-acre community north of Dolphin Mall and east of the Florida Turnpike. The plans call for two lakes, a pool, clubhouse and gym.
If the land-use designation remains as business and office/residential, one eight-story building would be allowed, along with another six-story structure.
But whether Doral 4200 will bring more congestion to an already busy roadway has some residents expressing their frustration on social media. A petition opposing the project has been circulated online and gathered more than 300 signatures.
“This investment can go somewhere else besides more construction, more traffic, over development,” wrote Ella Arie on the petition page. “Strengthen Doral’s culture by implementing cultural centers,” she wrote, ending with profanities aimed at city officials.
Despite the opposition voiced online, few people are taking their objections any further. Codina held at least five public workshops and only a few residents attended. Developers contend that their project would do just the opposite of what opponents fear — bring less traffic than what would be generated by an office building allowed under the current land-use map.
“Many people aren’t understanding, of course because it’s counterintuitive to say you’re ‘downsizing’ to high density residential,” said Joe Jimenez, vice president of Codina Partners. “But in reality, the project calls for much, much less traffic than what would be generated if what is currently allowed there would be built.”
According to a traffic study by David Plummer & Associates, paid for by Codina, if the council were to leave the land use as is, about 1,240 vehicle trips would be generated during morning peak hours — 7 to 8:30 a.m. About 1,132 trips would be generated from 5 to 6 p.m.
If Doral 4200 were to be built, about 126 trips would be generated during morning rush hour and about 155 during the afternoon peak time, the study said.
The study also predicted that about 8,000 daily trips would be generated if the land use stays as is, compared to about 1,600 trips for an apartment complex.
“The traffic in the area is heavy during all times on weekdays, just think about how new 250 multifamily residences can increase our current traffic problem,” wrote the petition’s originator, Alvaro Ferrando, on the petition page.
Joe Corradino, owner of The Corradino Group, a development, transit and infrastructure planning company that has conducted dozens of traffic studies in Miami-Dade County, says the average apartment generates 0.3 trips per unit during morning rush hour.
“The developer’s estimation of 126 trips in the morning is surprisingly high,” Corradino said. “Of course the more bedrooms an apartment has, the more probable drivers there may be and the higher that number can go. But overall they are in the ballpark.”
Subrata Basu, a veteran urban planner, told the Herald equations that predict how many trips a project will generate are only a guideline.
“Traffic engineers use strict standards to estimate how many people go to work, whether they go in the morning or at night, or when they go to the grocery store,” Basu said. What actually happens depends on many variables. Do people have access to stores on foot, or do they have to get in their cars? Is there public transit? It also depends on the office space. …Will they be medical offices that bring people in for appointments every 15 minutes? It all depends on the commercial use.”
With a small hospital proposed for the property across the street, city officials say medical offices are a strong possibility.
The 10-acre site is currently occupied by Tropical Treeworks, a nursery and landscaping company, and sits behind a strip mall along Northwest 41st Street. Directly north, east and west of the property are about a dozen gated communities with single and multi-family homes.