Miami Springs officials recently approved four hotel projects – all within a mile of one another and adjacent to Miami International Airport – causing some residents to complain the City Council is ignoring traffic and development concerns in this 3-square-mile town.
Residents lined up during the June 13 meeting to urge the Council to shut down its approval of all projects – large or small.
But after listening, the Council approved site plans for two new hotels. One will be an eight-story, 70,000-square-foot Comfort Inn & Suites. The other will be an 11-story, 90,000-square-foot Wyndham Gardens.
On June 6, the city’s Board of Adjustments approved variances for a five-story, 80,000-square-foot yet-unnamed hotel. The site plan was previously approved by the City Council. And in an interview on June 22, Asst. City Manager William Alonso said that approval had been given for a fourth hotel, a 80,000-square-foot Hampton Inn.
All four hotels will be just off of Northwest 36th Street. Two of the hotels will be less than 500 feet apart. There are 18 hotels along the same street, which will bring the total to 22 in about a mile after the new additions are completed, according to city planning documents.
Miami Springs’ proximity to the airport creates the demand, said City Planner Chris Heid. It’s the largest industry in the city “by far,” he said, adding that there is “very little manufacturing” in the city.
Heid also said that the space is available for the hotels, as there are several abandoned lots near the airport.
“We’re airline business dependent, and as major airlines pulled back, it left a lot of lots underutilized,” he said.
Alonso added that the hotel industry brings a lot of tax revenue for the city. The Wyndham Garden project is worth $27 million alone, he said.
“Commercial development creates a tax base that lowers the burden on residents,” Alonso said.
Miami Springs has invested in several projects in the last year, making a consistent revenue source necessary, he said. The most recent project is a $5 million aquatic facility opening in July.
Even though the four hotels are still in the beginning stages of development, Heid believes more are to come.
“We’re talking to three or four people now about different sites,” he said, adding interest along Northwest 36th Street remains high.
Despite the development – current and future – Heid and Alonso said traffic is not likely to be an issue.
“There’s a lot of airport traffic…a lot of shuttles, not like regular traffic,” Alonso said.
Some residents, however, remain unconvinced.
“How can it not?” longtime resident Leo Vidal said in an interview. “There’s already bumper-to-bumper traffic. I had to go around the whole block to find parking. Pretty soon they’re gonna start charging for parking.”
Vidal also said that construction trucks blocked part of Northwest 36th Street recently, causing issues for nearby residents.
“There was a lot of congestion because of those trucks coming into city limits, but they allowed it,” he said.
Vidal also said that the changes in the city are making it harder for older businesses to stay afloat. He said that as the city grows, larger companies are replacing local businesses.
“This used to be a sleepy little town,” he said.