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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Silverman

Densifying Miami | Duplexes Explained

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

For the last couple of years "duplex" has become a buzzword in everyday conversations at the supermarket line, outside cafecito spots,and inside hair salons. Some are in support, some are against them, some avoid the subject altogether because they are not sure what the fuss is about. What is certain is that the City of Miami's properties zoned "T3-Open", dubbed "duplex properties", have garnered the interest of first time buyers and investors throughout our Magic City and parts of Miami are being reshaped and transformed.

In an effort to shed some light on the general meaning and the implications of building a duplex or converting an existing structure into one we decided to prepare this blog post. As a reminder, this is intended for general information purposes only. It is largely based on the City of Miami's Zoning Code "Miami 21". While most other jurisdictions, including the Miami-Dade's RU-2 zoning share similar interpretations, it's important to check the applicable code. The diagrams are based on a typical Suburban Transect "T-3" internal residential lot size minimum of 5,000 SF (50ft front x 100ft depth). Specific properties will have to be evaluated on a case by cases basis by a licensed architect or planner.

Why are duplexes in Miami's and the national spotlight?

Over the last decade there has been an increased effort to rezone properties from single-family zoning to two-family zoning (aka "duplex") throughout cities across the US. While it might not seem like a radical change it's important to remind ourselves that single-family housing has been a bastion of American life for the last century with protectionist and restrictive mechanisms to ensure the status quo from ever being challenged.

The current affordable housing crisis, however, has shed light on how perpetuating the existing model of sprawling cities is untenable and unsustainable, and the shift to a denser urban model is considered part of part of the solution.

Years before Marcia Fudge, The White House's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, had declared Miami the "Epicenter" of our current Housing Crisis (2022), The City of Miami and Miami-Dade County had already started to encourage and undergo changes in rezoning for duplexes in order to provide an increased housing supply. To date, only a fraction of the overall single family zoned properties has been rezoned and we expect that as increased pressures continue there will be a more substantial adoption of the duplex zoning throughout the region. It's important to familiarize ourselves as professionals and citizens with this property type since we are more likely than ever before going to be living and working in one.

What is a Duplex or Two Unit Dwelling?

As the name implies, a duplex or two-family residential unit, consists of two dwellings/homes legally developed on a single lot.

While there are different kinds of duplexes, most duplexes will have to meet the following criteria to be considered permissible:

  • Lot must be zoned "By Right" for 2 units or allow for an ancillary unit.

  • The site plan and structure(s) must meet the zoning parameters.

  • Each unit must individually meet:

    • Minimum unit size

    • Direct access from the street

    • Direct entry into the unit

    • Minimum Parking Requirements. (Tandem Parking is allowed by Miami 21)

    • Separate Utility Connections

What are the different kinds of duplexes?

We've classified duplexes into two groups, attached and detached, and provided two types for each.

What are the benefits of each duplex type?

Is a duplex right for you?

While there are plenty of benefits to building (or converting) and living in a duplex it's impossible to provide a yay or nay in general terms without gauging your specific needs. We would be happy to sit down with you.

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