MIAMI, MAY 8, 2015 – Ram announced today it has filed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) with the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the development of Coral Reef Commons, a 138-acre residential and commercial community in southern Miami-Dade County. The plan calls for 52 acres to be dedicated in perpetuity as preserve. It also includes installing approximately 4 acres of pine rockland plantings within the residential areas, known as “stepping stones.”
Coral Reef Commons was approved by Miami-Dade County in 2013 after eight public hearings. Last July, the Fish & Wildlife Service expressed concern about species that were then being added to the endangered list in the Richmond area, where Coral Reef is located. In response to that concern, Ram decided to delay commencement of the development and instead to undergo consultation with USFWS and to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan.
The plan is a science-based document that includes a survey of species and habitat. The surveys found evidence only of one federally listed wildlife species utilizing habitat within CRC—the Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly, listed after Ram purchased the property. The survey of habitat describes current conditions and contrasts those with conditions that will prevail on site following the restoration and maintenance of the 52 acres of preserve. The initial cost to restore the preserves to a maintenance level, funded through development of the property, will approach $2 million. An annual maintenance program thereafter and a covenant that runs with the land will insure that the quality of pine rockland and its carrying capacity for species of concern will be enhanced and maintained in perpetuity.
The 86 acres that are being developed consist primarily of disturbed upland and previously developed land. Within the development footprint, only 33 acres of pine rockland can be found, of which 77 percent is considered degraded.
“Although the decision to file this plan will delay the project by more than a year, it has given us the opportunity to respond to expressed concerns and to enhance the plan from an environmental standpoint,” said Ram Chairman Peter D. Cummings. “An additional 12 acres have been added to preserve, including the ‘stepping stones’ located within the residential areas to improve connectivity between the preserve areas. The east and west preserves, previously disconnected, have been joined by the creation of a 50-foot wildlife corridor on the southern border of the property.”
The Coral Reef property was initially developed in the 1940’s as the Richmond Naval Air Base and subsequently was acquired by the University of Miami and utilized as a South Campus and for medical research purposes. Coral Reef Commons is designed to include 900 garden-style residential apartments, a Walmart store and several other retailers and restaurants. The site is located on the south side of Coral Reef Drive (SW 152 Street) at SW 127 Avenue, just to the north of Zoo Miami.