Miami Beach CANDO – Affordable Housing or Art Politics?

Earlier this week, City of Miami Beach commissioners unanimously approved a package of incentives for affordable housing in a new district designated as Cultural Arts Neighborhood District Overlay b.k.a. CANDO (you know – for marketing purposes ala “Health District” f.k.a the Civic Center), making Miami Beach the first city in Miami-Dade County to create a district that attempts to offer affordable housing for artists.

s1_cando-color-map.jpg
The Arts Neighborhood’s boundaries are 24th Street and North Lincoln Lane to the north, Meridian and Lenox Avenues to the west, South Lincoln Lane to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Some of you may know this area as Collins Park (CANDO, I guess, is much, much sexier), an area currently home to the Bass Museum, the new Miami Beach Regional Library, the Jackie Gleason Theater, the Miami City Ballet, Collins Park, and the ever-so-successful Art Basel Miami Beach.

Does it surprise anyone that Miami Beach would be the first municipality to attempt such a thing even after Wynwood – in the City of Miami – long ago took over as the local cutting-edge art scene?

Kudos to Miami Beach for being the first to attempt to reverse gentrification by keeping and/or attracting the very people who, as a result of their “avant-gardeness”, took South Beach (SoBe) from drug-infested, crime-ridden war zone glorified by the 1983 cult classic, Scarface, to drug-infested, lust-filled, high density, “A-list” adult playground with some of the highest property values south of Manhattan.

But is the City reeeeeally trying to reverse gentrification?

At first glance, it sounds like a blissful marriage between two different worlds, those of developer and struggling artist. However, a closer look at the City’s Planning Board Documents leaves me a bit perplexed and confused. No me huele a tumbe todavia, but…

As it currently stands, the underlying zoning district requires that units in rehabilitated or newly constructed buildings comply with a minimum of 400 square feet and a total minimum average size of 550 square feet. However, one of the recently approved overlay regulations exempts developers from meeting the average unit size of 550 square feet if 25% of the units are reserved for “cultural arts workers”.

“Cultural arts workers” is defined in Section 142-855 of the Planning Board Documents as “anyone who is an artist, or who works in any capacity within a visual or performing arts organization who meets Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines for income eligibility for moderate income”.

“Moderate income” is defined as “households whose incomes are between 51% and 80% of the median income for the area as determined by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development”.

Now, I like to believe that I produce tastefully designed flyers and other forms of visually captivating promotional material as part of my duties as a real estate agent. Heck, I just finished performing Travis’ “Selfish Jean” from beginning to end while writing this blog post (and sounded pretty damn good too).

You see where I’m going with this?

The language used by the City is much too vague and ambiguous and fails to clearly define who qualifies for what, leaving way too much room for interpretation to the powers that be.

Is the bass player in a local band an artist? Is the aspiring novelist/freelance writer who moonlights as a barista an artist? Is the recently graduated architect who assists in the design of a new building in CANDO an artist? How about the guy in Lincoln Road standing in front of the ArtCenter (of all places) dressed in his 60’s-best performing “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels? Is he an artist?

What area are they referring to when determining income eligibility? Is it Miami-Dade County? Is it the City of Miami Beach? Is it zip code 33139? Is it the census tract? Is it township 32? Is it the area encompassed by the CANDO Arts Neighbhorhood?

Will the only “artists” to qualify be the politically connected few who pose for photo-ops – hard hat, shovel, and all – with developers and city officials and later tout the Overlay’s success in exchange for a 400 square foot live/work space?

hardhats.jpg

Or will the struggling artist who discovers new types of pigments and new methods of painting due to lack of resources (i.e. cash) get the opportunity to become part of an economically diverse, self-sustained cohesive neighborhood?

For everybody’s sake, I can only hope for the latter.

Adrian Salgado is a Realtor Associate with RED I Realty in Miami, FL and can be reached at 305-491-7179 or SalgadoA@gmail.com.

8 Comments

Filed under Miami Beach CANDO - Cultural Arts Neighborhood District

8 responses to “Miami Beach CANDO – Affordable Housing or Art Politics?

  1. I agree that the attempt by the City of Miami Beach seems genuine and sincere but I do agree with your article about qualifying who in fact is an artist. That is so vague and subjective. Will a pick up artist be considered an artist? Will a person who considers themselves creative be considered an artist?

    Will they sell these units or rent them out? Other things that came to mind is if there will be any deed restrictions. Is an artist able to sell to a non-artist if by doing so, concentration of artists in the community fall below the minimum requirements?

    Seems to me like a logistical nightmare to track but with good intentions. If implemented, it all boils down to management by the City.
    Great Article!!!

    Orlando A. Diaz
    RED I Mortgage

  2. Adrian Salgado

    I agree, Orlando. Logistical nightmare is almost an understatement.

    This is policy that, if and when it is implemented, needs to be analyzed periodically to make sure that its purpose is being carried out.

    Three years from now, has median household income in the yet-to-be specified area increased?

    If the answer to that question is no, then there’s no sense in continuing to carry sunk costs. However, we all know how politics play out and those involved won’t always (do they ever?) come out three years down the road and admit that the policy they helped implement is ineffective because of the political ramifications they’d be facing.

    That’s when these bogus “impact studies” start to surface, where those given the responsibility to carry out the studies are given a predetermined conclusion and then told to support that conclusion with questionable “facts”.

    It begins and ends with the citizenry. If the citizens demand clear oversight of this overlay, then it will be tough for politicos to fudge any studies.

    If any municipal government can make this thing work, it’s the City of Miami Beach. Just physically being in South Beach allows one to see the results of good government and good planning.

    Now, if this were being carried out by the City of Miami or Miami-Dade County….

  3. Adrian,

    This is great! I meant to comment on this when I read it last week. I follow these types of projects all over the country. They work pretty well in many places, especially in Paducah, KY. I know, strange as it sounds, but they have an incredibly successful program.

  4. Adrian Salgado

    Cory,

    Thanks for your words of hope. Although I may come across as a pessimist in my writings, I’m really only trying to play devil’s advocate, show the other side of things. Too often the local media reports on ideas, programs, etc. for the betterment of the arts and its community only to end up with pork barrel again and again.

    I’m rooting for Miami Beach to get this right. It would only benefit all of us!

  5. Artists posseses a sense of sensibility and awareness most people lack, this is not to say it makes them better or worst than anyone, but I do credit Artists for maintaining these traits into adulthood, since I beleive we are all born Artists.

    It is through Art that we learn while our brains are at its most receptive state, unfortunately Art programs in School are not the priority, and are often dropped or cut in half as we move up the scholastic path. Getting back to your blog, yes, the definition of Artist may seem vague in reagards to CANDO, in essence we all have Artistic traits, specially with advances in technology these days which focus on Music and Design, which in turn allow many to tap into some of their Artistic potential. Like with any other career, I guess the true Artist will be the one who puts the time and dedication into it, and maintains his/her eyes and ears open for opportunities like the one your blog addresses. Awareness is key, so thanks for sheding some light into the CANDO initiative, it’s worth looking into it, and I am sure it can serve as motivation to many.

    Congrats to Cory for following these type of projects around, if Artists do not pursue the help offered, it will surely be gone in a hurry.

    Art in its purest form is a way of perceiving one’s surroundings … expressing that, and getting one’s point across is the actual challenge. In my way of thinking the world would be a much better place if we placed more emphasis on Art and Astronomy, these two parameters set the bar for finding harmony with our surroundings, but Astronomy is another classroom, another teacher, and maybe another blog entry.

    Thanks for the article, hope I didn’t sidetrack too much on it.

    Cris.

  6. Adrian Salgado

    Señor Cristian,

    Thank you for your words of enlightenment.

    I did notice that all references to the word “Art” were expressed in capital “A” throughout. I like that.

    I’ll let you do the Astronomy post. That’s way too powerful for me to even begin. However, I do think that the line between Art and Science is starting to blur more and more.

    The future holds a different place for artistically sensitive people. With the evolution of science and technology, art is going to become that much more important in our lives – and those who appreciate it the most, will stand to benefit the most as well (whether it’s financially, personally, and/or spiritually).

    Thanks again!

  7. As far as I know, and I am very often in this neighborhood, the City of Miami Beach will only rent to artists.
    I think it will follow the same process as the Art Center on Lincoln Road, where artists can have a studio where they can work for 3 years. A comittee select the artists and change them every 3 years.
    But anything that can help Art is welcome. And I do trust too the City of Miami Beach to do a better job than Miami or Miami-Dade.
    Best regards.
    FD @ Condo Hotel South Beach

  8. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz

    September 24, 2008 Muenchen-Trudering Bayern

    OH PLEASE! CANDO is a scam to get PUBLIC MONEY to buy hotels Kent Harrision Robbins is involved in for buyers who cannot close. The “connection here” is that AC Weinstein, who “drafted” CANDO with former Commissioner Nancy Liebman, has an “INTEREST ONLY” mortgage from LOBBYIST KENT HARRISON ROBBINS! Every person involved in Federal housing or Florida State Programs has said the proposal WILL NOT BENEFIT WORKING PEOPLE and is an ILLEGAL UNDER FEDERAL GUIDELINES scam to reward NOT EVEN AN OWNER OF THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION, but someone with a “contract to buy” NOW REPRESENTED BY KENT HARRISION ROBBINS! This is a typical corrupt proposal to steal PUBLIC MONEY for PRIVATE GAIN of un-registered LOBBYISTS LIKE AC WEINSTEIN and “hidden” ones like KENT HARRISON ROBBINS! By the way, despite Mayor Matti Bower’s statements, her chief of staff WEINSTEIN was “LOBBYING” with members of the Miami Beach Commission such as Ed Tobin, Deede Weithorn, and Jonah Wolfson to FORCE THEM TO REVERSE THE FINANCIAL DECISION BY JORGE GONZALEZ NOT TO USE RDA FUNDS from Miami Beach’s coffers for this scam! WEINSTEIN LOOKED BOWER IN THE FACE AND SAID HE NEVER LOBBIED TOBIN! So people can lie, and lie, and lie.

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