Hialeah Transit-Oriented Development | Guidelines and Zoning Amendments
Project Type: Transit-Oriented Development
Project Status: Completed
Completion Date: October 2016
Site Area: 313 acres
Client: City of Hialeah
A 1925 suburb’s transformation from car dependency to 21st-century commuter rail connectivity
The Hialeah Transit Oriented Development Plan (TOD) will transition two of the city’s car-dependent suburban, underutilized warehouse districts into vibrant, mixed-use, compact communities served by premium commuter rail. The fully-adopted zoning will create 313 acres of walkable, urban development in a working-class community that has not benefited from significant economic growth in decades. For the first time in the city’s 90-year history, it will create dense, walkable, 24-hour mixed-use districts linked to some of the best fixed rail commuter transit in South Florida. The enacted legislation creates two compact districts to address Hialeah’s need for workforce housing, adaptive reuse, job creation, civic space, complete streets, and dense urban living.
Hialeah, Florida, was incorporated in 1925 and was best known for the Hialeah Race Track in its early years. The city grew rapidly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, becoming a popular destination for Cuban exiles who began transforming the city into a working-class community.
The pair of large TODs will transform Hialeah from the typical, nearly 100 percent car-dependent American suburb into a prime example of urban living. Complete Streets Guidelines, adopted in parallel with the two TODs, will transform suburbia into complete districts with pedestrian, bicycle, and transit mobility networks.
Compact urban development created by the TOD districts is within walking distance of three rail nodes that provide direct rail links to regional job centers and three international airports. The city’s leadership in creating two major TODs will unlock the potential of primarily underused existing train stations. TOD will introduce more equitable, affordable, sustainable, and healthy communities to Hialeah.
Transit Oriented Development regulations are a significant step toward reducing the cost of living for Miami-Dade County’s second-largest municipality. WalletHub ranked Hialeah as the second worst city in America regarding income gap applied to housing affordability, where “nearly one out of three tenants in Hialeah spends at least 50 percent of their net monthly income on rent, dwarfing the 35 percent maximum recommended global standard.”
TOD zoning requires one space for each one-bedroom unit, generally under 650 square feet, and 1.5 spaces for larger units. Developers can reduce the parking requirement by a half-space per unit by paying into a parking fund that will pay for centralized garages, increasing walkability. Relieved of the expense of building excessive parking, developers can offer units at a more affordable price. The cost of living is further reduced by proximity to rail, eliminating the high cost of car ownership.
Millennials searching for housing have been largely priced out of greater Miami. In Hialeah, the sixth most populous city in Florida, Market Station, and Transfer Station TODs will provide mixed-use districts with micro units connected by rail to all the region’s activity centers. A wide range of price points will serve empty nesters and young families seeking workforce housing.
Increased density promotes arts, restaurants, and shops. All buildings must have ground-floor retail to activate the street. Market Station District is a continuation of the nearby existing LEAH Arts District. TOD zoning encourages adaptive reuse of existing warehouse structures. Complete Streets promote healthy living options for mobility beyond the car. Their design is considered parallel to the uses they serve and incentivizes civic life.
In Market Station, a high-rise allows 125 units per acre and up to 12 stories via a bonus program to get three additional stories. Mid-rise areas are zoned for 125 units per acre and up to eight stories by adding three stories via bonus. Low-rise areas are zoned for up to 36 units per acre at a maximum of four stories. High densities in lower buildings promote smaller, more affordable dwelling units. Transfer Station has the same density, with high-rise capped at eight stories, mid-rise at six, and low-rise at three.
Bonus development rights can be attained by providing benefits such as affordable / workforce housing, public park / open space, LEED certification, adaptive reuse of legacy structures, and cash contributions to a public benefits fund. The benefits fund can be used to acquire, create, maintain, and restore green and open spaces.
Market Station TOD encourages historic preservation by restoring the 1926 Seaboard Air Line Railroad depot, which was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
APA Florida 2017 Award of Merit in the Neighborhood Planning category