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Sweetwater zoning changes aimed at luring FIU-friendly developer

Sweetwater recently rezoned two parcels of land near Florida International University in hopes of luring a developer willing to build campus friendly housing.

By Rodolfo Roman
Special to the Herald

Sweetwater has rezoned two parcels of land across the street from Florida International University in hopes of luring a developer willing to build college-friendly housing for students and professors.

Mayor Manny Maroño said the zoning change to mixed-use residential and commercial on two lots located on Southwest Seventh Terrace and 109th Avenue is part of a larger goal to take advantage of the city’s collegiate neighbor to the south.

“This has been a vision of mine to incorporate the university,” said Maroño.

A few months ago, the commission approved rezoning the areas between 109th and 117th avenue and Flagler Street .

The lots are currently owned by well-known South Florida developer Sergio Pino and University Campus Lodge LLC., according to Miami-Dade County Property records. One of the lots housed The Ohio Bar, which has been closed for about four years.

The combined size of both lots is less than one acre.

Maroño said the zoning would allow for a 15-story building with roughly 180 residential units and retail on the first floor — and if completed would be the tallest in the city.

The developer would not be required to provide parking for all 180 units, said the mayor, who noted that students would park on campus and then cross the street to their homes.

“We want it to be pedestrian friendly,” he said. “We want people to have coffee or dinner.”

Limited parking will be available on site. But that could change during the planning phase, said Robert Herrada, Sweetwater chief of staff.

So far, there hasn’t been an offer from developers, said Maroño.

The zoning change isn’t surprising, he said. Property owners in Coral Gables and South Miami have catered to nearby University of Miami students with townhomes, condos and apartment complexes.

“Once the first building is up, others will follow,” said Maroño.

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