18 Apr THE REVITALIZATION OF DOWNTOWN MIAMI
April 18, 2018 – There is a lot going on in Downtown Miami… and a lot of revitalization that is long overdue! Over the past several months, we have seen a variety of initiatives both planned and break ground to improve the livability of Downtown Miami. For far too long, the areas to the west of Biscayne Boulevard have been in need of some much needed love. Occupied by a dwindling amount of discount retailers, struggling budget restaurants, shelters, and wholesale shops, what should be a crown jewel of our city has been anything but.
Thankfully, due to some city initiatives as well as the acquisition by noteworthy developers including Moishe Mana, Arthur Falcone and Nitin Motwani, the future of Downtown Miami should be one full of new life, tourism, shopping, new modes of transportation and real estate.
Biscayne Green, which started as a 20-day test project, is currently a once a month ‘public space intervention,’ staged by the Miami Downtown Development Authority. Biscayne Green occupies portions of the parking lots in the center of Biscayne Boulevard featuring artists, vendors, fitness spaces, a bark park, a music alley, a children’s park and a relaxing lounge. In an effort to put emphasis on “people over cars,” 101 parking spaces and two-lanes of traffic are repurposed to form a pedestrian friendly promenade. The end-goal is to find a permanent solution to allow for this installation to remain year-round providing more green space to accommodate a population that has risen by a whopping 118%.
On Flagler Street, a $13 million beautification is currently in the works to revitalize the city’s deteriorating historic main street. Plans for Flagler that would cover half a mile include widened sidewalks, shade trees, pedestrian friendly lighting and improved street surfaces. Despite delays by contractor FH Paschen, who has cited outdated underground utility lines, antiquated clay pipes and wooden conduits that did not match the city’s blueprints, the project is forging on.
Home to the highest concentration of historic buildings in downtown, Flagler will soon come alive with outdoor cafes, shopping, benches, public space, and off-street valet parking intended to reduce automotive congestion and enhance pedestrian mobility.
“Flagler Street can be to downtown Miami what Lincoln Road has been to South Beach, a unique pedestrian attraction,” said Miami DDA Vice Chair and former Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin.
In what will help deliver people to Downtown Miami is the recently opened high speed Brightline Train that aims to connect Southeast Florida with outlying cities including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando. They promise service that is more comfortable, faster and more reliable than ever before. Working towards a mission of reinventing train travel in America, Brightline is the only privately owned, operated and maintained passenger rail system in the United States. Despite numerous opening setbacks, the Brightline is touted as one of the most advanced passenger rail systems in the nation. The Brightline Rail Station will fulfill the transit element joining the larger ‘MiamiCentral,’ development. Spanning over six downtown city blocks, Miami Central promises to deliver a mixed-use urban experience. The complex will include a food hall, retail shops, 800+ rental residences and uniquely connected urban offices.
Also currently under construction in Downtown Miami is the Miami World Center. Reported to occupy as much as 25 acres of land, this project is ever-changing in an effort to keep up with shifts in the retail landscape – plans for a traditional mall have been scrapped. In its place, the Miami World Center is slated to include a 1,700-room Marriott Marquis hotel with a 500,000 sq/ft. convention center, residential towers, copious street level retail and an anchor tenant space, which could house a retail giant such as Macy’s or Bloomingdales.
Ten years ago, Downtown Miami was nothing like it is today. These developments, coupled with the opening of the world-renowned arts & science facilities that include the Adrienne Arsht Performance Arts Center, the PAMM Museum and the Frost Science Museum are helping make downtown livable and fulfill its reputation as the flourishing metropolis that people expect from Miami.