The problem Andrew Frey faced in an infill housing project revolved around parking requirements in the Little Havana section of Miami that stifled residential construction. After a four-year battle to waive the requirements, Frey’s real estate development company completed construction of four three-story townhomes.
Frey challenged legislation that called for 1.5 parking spaces per unit. The cost of surface parking can add $10,000 per unit to the cost of a project, while a parking garage can add as much as $50,000 to housing costs.
Prior to starting his development agency, Tecela, Frey worked for an apartment development company and realized the parking requirements stalled construction. “I thought what is the biggest obstacle that I can work on removing?” Frey said. “I knew I had to get that resolved if I was going to build small apartment projects.”
He solved the issue by enlisting community support, including that of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez, now the city’s Mayor. Miami eventually passed legislation to waive the parking requirements, paving the way for Frey to continue with the project.
Working with architect Jason Chandler and general contractor 748 Development, Tecela constructed the townhouses with multi-layer facades and large balconies. The apartments include 1- and 2-bedroom units, ranging from 617 to 1,211 square feet.
The BILCO hatches allow access to mechanical equipment on the roof of the buildings. The hatches were selected by architect Jason Chandler because they work reliably and were also code compliant.
Each townhome includes Type S roof hatches manufactured by The BILCO Company. The hatches have a fixed interior ladder, and include a counter-balanced cover design for easy one-hand operation and fully gasketed and insulation construction for weather resistance. The hatches allow access to rooftop equipment.
“They were affordable and reliable,” architect Chandler said. “We have used them in previous projects. They were also code-compliant for accessing mechanical equipment on the roof.”
The project was a welcome addition to the residential landscape of Little Havana, which is one of the most unique cultural neighborhoods in the nation. With a population of around 76,000 residents, the area is the social and cultural hub for many Hispanics, including exiles from Cuba.
In 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included Little Havana as one of its “11 Most Endangered Places.” The list spotlights areas where architectural, cultural, and natural sites of national significances are being harmed by neglect or incompatible development.
The project is noteworthy for several reasons. Urban planners, for instance, hope that Miami residents will reduce their reliance on cars to alleviate traffic congestion. Also, there is a critical shortage of affordable housing in the area. The buildingswere also designed to keep in character with the neighborhood.
“I was really enamored with the idea of townhouses, rowhouses and brownstones in other cities, and I wanted to see what I could do in Miami,” Frey said. “When I was working with the development company, I thought about what obstacles they face. The big one was parking.”
When the city changed the rules, Frey saw a chance to move forward with his building project. In doing so, he has helped improve living conditions in a neighborhood that is beloved in Miami.