That’s because developers that want to build taller and denser projects need air rights to take their projects from the drawing board to the clouds. Churches and other historic sites around Miami are gold mines if they possess unused air rights.
According to Javier Avino, a partner in Bilzin Sumberg’s Land Develop & Government Relations Group, the market for air rights has taken off since the implementation of Miami 21 zoning code. The code allows owners of historic buildings to sell to developers in areas like Downtown Miami their unused air rights so long as they reinvest the proceeds in renovations. In fact, this robust market is helping to revitalize neighborhoods like MiMo where residents are selling their air rights to renovate run-down motels, restaurants and stores in the neighborhood.
“As the construction boom in Miami continues, developers and owners of historic sites are taking advantage of the Transfer Development Rights (TDR) program, creating a seemingly win-win opportunity to enhance vertical development for new construction while funding the preservation of key historic sites,” Avino says. “In some of Miami’s most underdeveloped and underutilized areas—such as the MiMo district—the TDR program, allows for key preservation of historic structures while positioning the neighborhood as one of the next ‘it’ neighborhoods.”
City of Miami records show 18 air rights sales in 2014. Although the trend is gaining momentum, it’s not exactly a new phenomenon. Sunny Isles Beach has been a popular location for developers looking for air rights.