Did you know about the special, liberal zoning that awaits you if you have a Coral Gables Cottage?

Zoning for Coral Gables Cottages
As a way to preserve the Mediterranean character of Coral Gables, which dates from its founding in the 1920’s, the Coral Gables commission passed an ordinance many years ago, giving more liberal zoning to new Mediterranean houses and existing residences which were designated as “Coral Gables Cottages”.

The part of the ordinance which allowed new Mediterranean cottage-like construction was quickly abolished, as some of the houses appeared to be too large in comparison to their neighbors. But the part of the ordinance which survived and applied to the existing cottages is enshrined in the new Coral Gables Zoning Code.

So, first, do you have a Coral Gables Cottage?

The Coral Gables Zoning Code says that you must be “a detached, single-family dwelling which is distinguished by its movement in plan, projections and recessions, asymmetrical arrangement of entrances, frequently employed surface ornament for embellishment”, and have 12 of the following 19 specific features which are part of the original house:

  1. Coral rock or stucco finish
  2. Combination roof type (e.g., gable, shed, hip or flat roof)
  3. Front porch
  4. Projecting bay on front elevation
  5. Masonry arches or arches springing from columns on front elevation
  6. Decorative doorway surrounds
  7. Decorative and/or predominant chimney
  8. Detached garage to the rear of the property
  9. Similar decorative features, parapet and/or roof slope on main house and detached garage
  10. Porte-cochere or carport
  11. Decorative wing walls
  12. Barrel tile roof
  13. Varied height between projecting and recessed portions of the front elevation
  14. Vents grouped as decorative accents
  15. Cast ornament and/or tile applied to front elevation
  16. Built-in niches and/or planters
  17. First floor above crawl space
  18. Casement or sash windows
  19. Loggias/arcade

In addition to these features, a cottage property must be zoned Single-Family Residence (SFR),
be no more than one-story in height, and with a street frontage of not more than 65’. Lastly, it must have been built prior to 1940.

The analysis below is a general overview of the SFR Zoning compared to the Coral Gables Cottage Zoning. There are many other specific requirements for specific lots and different definitions of how lot coverage and building areas are calculated. Do not take this as the final word as the zoning code changes all the time. Please review the Coral Gables Zoning Code as applicable to SFR and Coral Gables Cottages for more complete information at http://www.coralgables.com , then Zoning Code.

Let’s compare the two sets of requirements for the SFR Zoning and the C.G. Cottage:

Coral Gables Cottage Zoning

Setbacks on bodies of water:

The minimum setback from the waterway for all buildings, or portions thereof designed or used for occupancy for residential purposes shall be 35’ from the canal, waterway, lake or bay as platted.

Ground Area Coverage:

35% of lot area for main building; 45% of lot area including main and all
accessory buildings

Maximum Square Foot Area:

  • Forty-eight (48%) percent for the first five-thousand (5,000) S.F. of building site area
  • Thirty-five (35%) percent for the next five-thousand (5,000) square feet of building site area
  • Thirty (30%) percent for the remainder of the building site area.

Landscape Requirements:

40% of lot area

Coral Gables Cottage Requirements

Coral Gables cottage zoing requirement

Where existing setbacks meet current standards, a reduction in the setback requirement of up to twenty five (25%) percent shall be permitted. However, the setback of 2’-6” is a minimum and yard size requirements must be met.

Ground Area Coverage:

48% of lot area for main building; 58% of lot area including main and all accessory buildings

Landscape Requirements:

The 40% landscape open space requirement may be reduced by 10%

Existing Garages:

Enclosed garages may be converted to living space or storage space subject to the following

  1. That a carport, porte-cochere or breezeway is provided for the storage of an automobile.
  2. That the converted garage may not be used as a rental unit.



Since the Cottage regulations do not modify the allowable maximum square foot area, more total square footage is not accepted. What is allowed and incentivized is more square footage on the ground floor with smaller setbacks to the property lines.


Should you want to find out more about whether your property is a Coral Gables Cottage and whether it will benefit from the zoning incentives, email me at [email protected] or call me at 305-552-5465.

Maria Luisa Castellanos, R.A., LEED AP, is a Florida-registered architect, principal of United Architects, Inc., and has been practicing in Florida for over 20 years. For more information, or to see her work, go to http://www.UnitedArchitectsInc.com . For her construction blog, go to www.UnitedArchitectsInc.com/blog .
Copyright, Maria Luisa Castellanos, 2010.

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