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Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?

Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:

“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”

So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.

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For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.

Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown. 

In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.

The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.

Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:

  • San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
  • Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
  • Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct

While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.

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Yesterday I attended a meeting between the MiMo Biscayne Association and 5 officials from the FDOT to discuss adding a median to Biscayne Boulevard from NE 69th Street to NE 77th Street in order to calm traffic and make this road more business and pedestrian friendly.  The meeting was frustrating to say the very least.

The FDOT gave about a half dozen reasons why they could not add a median to calm traffic in the MiMo Historic District. The main reasons given were that medians would add traffic to the residential neighborhood of Palm Grove and that it would limit vehicular access to businesses along Biscayne Boulevard.

I realized very quickly that the FDOT wasn’t going too add a median to Biscayne Boulevard so I changed my approach.

When I asked them to reduce the design speed from 40mph to 30 mph I was told that reducing the design speed would not improve safety along Biscayne Boulevard.

When I asked them whether they thought that 14 documented crashes in a two-year period within a 30 block stretch was an acceptable safety standard I was told that safety was subjective and a matter of perception.

Realizing that I was getting nowhere quick, I made one simple request.

Could we please have crosswalks at every intersection?

I was told that there isn’t enough “demand” from pedestrians to warrant any new crosswalks and we should all be elated that we now have three new mid-block crosswalks with flashing lights.

At that point, I walked out of the meeting. The message from the FDOT was very clear:

 “Screw you and your fellow pedestrians and be happy you got three additional crosswalks, because we aren’t going to do a single thing to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for anyone; what you have is what you get.”

Disgusted?   Please send the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego, City Commissioner Mark Sarnoff and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson an email by clicking here.

 

Yes, the City of Miami has done it again. It has managed to squander away another perfectly good $50,000 on another useless project. About two years ago there was an armed robbery in Belle Meade. The knee-jerk reaction by some Belle Meade residents was to erect a fence to prevent crime and Commissioner Sarnoff choose to support this silly idea with tax payer dollars.

Transit Miami produced this short video to illustrate how ridiculous and pointless this fence is. Instead of wasting $50,000 on a useless fence, Transit Miami has asked Commissioner Sarnoff to organize an Upper Eastside Charrette so that the entire community can come together and address the many issues that affect our neighborhood.  We have yet to hear back from Commissioner Sarnoff regarding the charrette.

If you think this fence is a waste of money and the funds could have been more wisely invested to develop a long term Upper Eastside plan, please let Commissioner Sarnoff know by sending him email by clicking here.

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Crash on NE 57th and Biscayne Blvd on Aug. 25, 2012. Third crash in the past 10 days in a 10 block stretch of Biscayne Boulevard. Clearly speeding is a problem.

Just this past week two more crashes occurred on Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District. That brings the total crashes to three in the past ten days and 14 in the past two years. Ten days ago I reported about a crash that occurred near NE 54th Street and several MiMo residents sent emails to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and to Commissioner Sarnoff. You can read their emails here.  I wonder if they received a reply from either gentleman?

Crash on Biscayne and NE 60th (8/24/2012). Three crashes in the past ten days within 10 blocks.

Ignoring the problem of the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard is no longer an option. It is only a matter of time before a fatality occurs and it is clear that something needs to be done. Biscayne Boulevard isn’t safe for pedestrians, cyclists or drivers, nor is it a business-friendly street.

Crash on Biscayne and NE 48th Street. This previously unreported accident occurred on June 15th. Source: Transit Miami informant known as agent “B”.

This situation will only get worse if the flawed high-speed design of this road is not immediately resolved. Fourteen crashes, in a two year period, within a twenty-five-blocks isn’t an acceptable safety standard.

Please send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and ask them to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for everyone. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.

Check out how Biscayne Boulevard should look. Can you imagine a business and pedestrian-friendly MiMo with on-street parking?  Wouldn’t it be nice if cars moved slower through the historic district?  This is all possible- a team from the University of Miami developed three alternative streetscape designs for Biscayne Boulevard. Which alternative do you prefer?

 

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In response to our post last week we were copied on several emails from Transit Miami Readers to FDOT District 6 Secretary and Commissioner Sarnoff regarding the unacceptable design conditions of Biscayne Boulevard that has led to at least 11 crashes in the past two years in the MiMo Historic District.  How much longer will the FDOT and the City of Miami continue to ignore the fact that Biscayne Boulevard is hostile to pedestrians and the businesses that operate along Biscayne Boulevard? Without further ado…

Honorable Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff and Mr. Gus Pego,

Subject: A Dangerous MiMo District

RE:  http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/11th-biscayne-boulevard-crash-in-mimo-during-the-past-two-years-the-fdot-is-silent

Felipe is right on target with his assessment of the dangerous traffic conditions in the MiMo Biscayne Boulevard Historic District.  You, your staff and State representatives have been put on notice and made aware of this problem dozens of times by way of letters, emails and meetings since the first death shortly after the 2007 reconstruction.

There have been various studies since the reconstruction all referencing the unsafe conditions and the fact it is NOT pedestrian friendly.  In addition to the  public’s safety, the average replacement cost of a light pole which exceeds $10,000 then add tree replacement, public employee hours and potential lawsuits - one would think preemptive safety measures make good sense.

I attended the very first meeting between the MiMo Biscayne Association at FDOT offices and the attitude regarding loss of life was appalling.  Again and again, the goal to “move traffic” as stated is the priority and I can understand that goal. But, what seems to have been forgotten is that you are in your position because of the taxpayers and that we, the taxpayers have told you over and over that we want to be safe on our sidewalks.  Why can’t you just do this for us?

Fran

 

Please make Biscayne blvd safer. Please put stop lights at every intersection. When I walk with my young children I am very fearful of the traffic. It is not safe and not good for business if we feel afraid to walk to dogma or other local venues.
Thank you.
Jenny

 

Mr. Pego & Commissioner Sarnoff:

My name is Melanie. I live in Bell Meade.  I too believe it is imperatvie that Biscayne Blvd. in MIMO become more pedestrian friendly.  I love the fact that my family is able to walk to Sunday beakfast at Balans (which we do every Sunday) or dinner somewhere else on the boulevard. However, I DO NOT FEEL SAFE, when am walking with my husband and son (who is almost 2) and cars are whizzing by us at light speeds.  There are portions of the sidewalk that provide us with less than 3 feet to walk on (see the sidewalk on the east side of biscayne near 70th street - adjacent to the empty parking lot by the Rapunzel salon) becuase the hedges are overgrown.  I enjoy living where we live, and would hope that you, our elected officials would help to make it as safe as possible for the growing number of families with young children that live in our area.

Thank you for your anticipated assistance.
Very Truly Yours,
Melanie

 

Honorable Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff and Mr. Gus Pego,

Please help make MiMo District of Biscayne Boulevard safer and pedestrian friendly.

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/11th-biscayne-boulevard-crash-in-mimo-during-the-past-two-years-the-fdot-is-silent

Thank you,
Jo

 

Please figure out a plan to fix Biscayne Blvd. Doing so will increase business in your area. A strong pedestrian base is essential to commerce. Paul

 

Please consider making Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian friendly. It is a major thoroughfare with close proximity to the intracoastal waterway making it the backbone of North Dade. As such, I frequently see pedestrians and bike riders on the street. They deserve the same safety that our cars enjoy.
Regards,
Brandon

Please join in the fun and send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and ask them to make Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian and business-friendly. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.

This problem is not going to get any better by ignoring it and we will continue to report about crashes until proper action is taken by the FDOT and the City of Miami. Eleven crashes in less than two years is not acceptable for a twenty-five block stretch of Biscayne Boulevard.

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For the past two years I have lived in the Upper Eastside of Miami and since moving here I have documented numerous crashes that have occurred along Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District. (NE 50th-NE 76 Street)

Just this past weekend another light post was struck on Biscayne Boulevard just north NE 54th Street. No word if there were any injuries.

Eleventh crash in the past two years in MiMo.

Three weeks ago a pedestrian was critically injured at a bus stop on Northeast 64th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.  It was a hit and run, but the driver was caught several blocks away.

The only thing the FDOT has done in a failed attempt to make Biscayne Boulevard safer is add these silly speed loop-back signs that do almost nothing to make the MiMo Historic District safer for pedestrians.

If a car moving at 47 mph strikes a pedestrian he/she/they will most likely die.

The FDOT has also added a mid-block crosswalk on Biscayne Boulevard between NE 72 Terrace and NE 72 Street. It’s great that we have “1 new crosswalk” in the area, but this really isn’t progress. I fail to understand why we don’t have a crosswalk at every intersection. Pedestrians should not have to walk 6 blocks just to get across the street.

Biscayne Boulevard has a design speed of 40+mph without any protection (i.e. on-street parking) between the speeding drivers and pedestrians. Until the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard is addressed crashes will continue to occur. It’s just a matter of time before someone is killed.  The City of Miami and the FDOT continue to turn a blind eye to the dangerous design of Biscayne Boulevard and as a result at least 11 crashes have resulted in less than 2 years in a twenty-five-block stretch along Biscayne Boulevard.

All that separates pedestrians from 3 tons of steel moving in excess of 40 mph is a 6” curb and a few feet. THIS IS NOT SAFE. IT IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

Check out how Biscayne Boulevard should look. Can you imagine a business and pedestrian-friendly MiMo with on-street parking?  Wouldn’t it be nice if cars moved slower through the historic district?  This is all possible- a team from the University of Miami developed three alternative streetscape designs for Biscayne Boulevard. Which alternative do you prefer?

Please send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and ask them to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for pedestrians. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.

 

Imagine walking out of the Metromover station at Biscayne and East Flagler Street and stepping out onto a linear park that runs under the elevated tracks, and continues north between the travel lanes of Biscayne Boulevard. Parking lots replaced with park space where people are sitting, having coffee, or even doing their morning yoga routine.

Welcome to Bayfront Parkway! - the latest Tactical Urbanist intervention brought to you by The Street Plans Collaborative, in partnership with C3TS.

Great cities have great parks. What is left of our great downtown waterfront park (after taking out the excessive number of buildings cluttering the landscape -read Museums, Bayside….etc) is underutilized by local residents; separated from area residents and businesses by FDOT’s 8 lane highway  design for Biscayne Boulevard. What should be an easy five minute walk for folks living across the street is distorted by excessively wide travel lanes, speeding motorists, and a few crosswalks to get to the park. What Biscayne Boulevard needs is a road diet that reallocates car space, both in the form of travel lanes converted to on-street parking  and parking lots converted to park space. This will not only provide a natural expansion of Bayfront Park - at a time of shrinking park budgets and ever growing needs for park space, it will also help traffic calm the street and bridge the distance between the park and the growing population of residents and businesses along Biscayne from I395 to SE 1 Street.

For five days Miamians will be able to get to experience what this space would be like if it were permanently converted into a park. From Tuesday February 29 to Sunday March 4, we will take over the parking lot between Flagler and NE 1 Street, and convert it into a grass covered park with moveable seating, food trucks, exercise equipment and more. There will be street  performances throughout the five days, from spoken word to jazz shows, sponsored by Miami-Dade College. Our goal is simple - to activate this space as much as possible with the everyday activities of a typical park.

Please join us for your lunch hour, or stop by after work. We want to show you how great it will be  - Bayfront Parkway!

Visit the project website at: http://bayfrontparkway.com/index.php for more information.

 

 

A friend of Transit Miami passed this gem of a quote on to us by FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego. This is what he had to say earlier today at the MPO meeting (Metropolitan Planning Organization).

“Just as you wouldn’t go to a supermarket for brain surgery, you’ve got to trust that the engineers know what they are doing”

-With regard to the value of installing the flashing crosswalks instead of implementing real traffic calming measures in the MiMo District on Biscayne Boulevard.

You can personally send your reply via email to Mr. Pego: gus.pego@dot.state.fl.us

Please watch the below interview with an actual FDOT engineer.

 

 

View Northward from Bayfront Park, 1930

View South, Biscayne Boulevard and Bayfront Park, c.1920

View South, Biscayne Boulevard and Bayfront Park, c.1920

 

 

 

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The FDOT continues to turn a blind eye to all the crashes that we have documented in the Upper Eastside on Biscayne Boulevard over the past year. The below scene must have occurred in the past 24 hours or so on Biscayne Boulevard and 48th Street. Another day and another light pole on Biscayne comes crashing down as the FDOT does nothing to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for those of use that walk, bike, shop, use transit or drive on this street. When will the FDOT actually acknowledge that there is a fundamental design problem with the way Biscayne Boulevard was constructed and actually do something about it? With at least 9 accidents in the past year the evidence is very clear.  Are they waiting for some to die before they fix Biscayne? The design speed needs to be commensurate with the 35 mph speed limit. Currently the design speed is about 45 mph.

9th light pole this year; 2nd in four days

Debris field spreads out about 75 feet from point of impact. Speeding is clearly a problem.

 

The FDOT needs to stop playing with people’s lives. I have lived in the MiMo neighborhood for about a year and I am aware of at least 8 crashes involving motor vehicles taking out light poles/bus shelters/store fronts. I have documented most of them here.

Adding insult to injury our local elected officials, City Commissioner Sarnoff and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson along with the FDOT, have done nothing to address the design speed on Biscayne Boulevard. The design speed on this street throughout the Upper East Side is about 45 mph.  Although the speed limit is 35 mph it has become glaringly obvious that we have a speeding problem along this COMMERCIAL and RESIDENTIAL neighborhood.

A bus stop on a narrow sidewalk with cars flying by at 45+mph is a recipe for disaster.

Aside from a 1 day enforcement crackdown about a month ago on Biscayne and 45th  Street, our elected officials aren’t doing nearly enough to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for those of us that are walking, biking, or waiting for a bus.  Enforcement is not the solution. We need to design our roadways in order to achieve the speed we desire people to drive. In the case of Biscayne Boulevard the design speed should not exceed 35 mph.  The FDOT (and our elected officials) must stop practicing wishful thinking and begin designing roads that discourage speeding that don’t require enforcement. Properly designed streets enforce themselves. Biscayne Boulevard is essentially a highway that cuts through commercial and residential neighborhoods; there are also several schools in this area. I cannot think of a good reason for a 45 mph design speed. You can find recommendations to make Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian and business friendly here.

Commissioner Sarnoff has offered to pay for a $70,000 fence surrounding Belle Meade from the Quality of Life funds which will do nothing to improve the quality of life for anyone on the Upper East Side.  I’d rather see the $70,000 used to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for those of us that walk and do business on the Boulevard. Pedestrian and business friendliness go hand-in-hand.

Please send Commissioner Sarnoff an email and ask him what he plans to do about this very serious issue.  You could also send an email to County Commissioner Edmonson.

This situation is out of control and no one is being held accountable. The 8 documented crashes could have very easily involved 8 lost lives.

 

Miami Today News is reporting that the FDOT’s two-year $16 million renovation effort of Biscayne Boulevard is coming to an end. The FDOT resurfaced the road, installed new drainage, and built new sidewalks and improved lighting and signage from NE 16 Street to NE 36th Street.

Enrique Tomayo, Senior Project Engineer for Tomayo Engineering had this to say about the reduced lane widths, wider green space between sidewalk and bigger sidewalks:

“That makes the corridor more pedestrian-friendly.”

What a joke. Other then the sidewalks I could not think of a more pedestrian-unfriendly design then the current design that FDOT selected.

This afternoon I rode my bicycle from NE 22nd Street up to NE 36th Street. In this 14-block stretch of roadway there are only 5 crosswalks. If the FDOT really wanted to make this high-density, commercial corridor pedestrian-friendly, they would have added a crosswalk at every intersection. A pedestrian should not have to walk four blocks just to get across the street.  If the FDOT actually expects pedestrians to walk four blocks just to cross the street they are living in la la land.

This entire project is an embarrassment. If the FDOT were truly concerned about economic development, pedestrians and cyclists they would have added on street parallel parking as well.  Not only do businesses on Biscayne Boulevard need accessible parking for their customers, but parallel parking also helps to calm traffic. When you calm traffic, you make the roadway more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

It is clear that the FDOT has one mission- To move cars as quickly as possible without regard to the needs of businesses, pedestrians and bicyclists.

I think we should rename Biscayne Boulevard to Biscayne Highway. This road is looking less like a Boulevard and more like a Highway. Take a look for yourselves…

Biscayne Boulevard or Biscayne Highway? There is nothing pedestrian-friendly about this roadway.

When will the FDOT learn to properly build a roadway that is safe for everyone? This project hasn’t even been completed and we already have to fix it. The same shitty roadway design was produced in the MiMo District.  When the MiMo BID Executive Committee meet with the FDOT they were told they would have to wait another 20 years to re-stripe Biscayne Bouleveard because that is when the project is up for review again. How many people will be injured or die and how many businesses will suffer during that time due to poor roadway design? Absolutely pathetic. Everyone is at the mercy of the FDOT and there is nothing we can do.  Very sad.

 

Dear Commissioner Sarnoff,

As a resident of Belle Meade I am opposed to the use of $70,000 from the Quality of Life funds to erect a fence surrounding my community. I wholeheartedly believe that the use of these funds is a waste of money that will not make Belle Meade any safer. I think these funds could be used more effectively to address “Quality of Life” issues that affect the ENTIRE Upper East Side community and not just Belle Meade.

I propose that these funds should be used for an Upper East Side charrette. An intensive 7-10 day charrette that brings the community together to address our concerns and collectively plan for the future of the Upper East Side will do more to improve the quality of life for ALL residents then a fence excluding my neighbors from outside my Belle Meade community from entering Belle Meade.

The SINGLE most important thing that we should do as a community is encourage redevelopment in the area with more density.  The more density we have, the more active our streets become and thus our community becomes safer. I have spoken to developers and they have informed me that the current 35′ designation along Biscayne Boulevard discourages them from investing and bringing the needed density to this commercial corridor.  This is just one of the items that should be discussed during an Upper East Side charrette.

The SECOND most important thing that we could do as a community is design and engineer a streetscape that is business and pedestrian friendly. To achieve this we must:

  • Add parallel parking
  • Reduce travel lanes to calm traffic and discourage speeding
  • Add crosswalks at every intersection

The MiMo BID has met with the FDOT on several occasions, and the FDOT has confirmed that the ideas proposed in a recent MiMo Streetscape Vision Plan produced by Chuck Bohl and Jaime Correa from the University of Miami are feasible.

Retailers need accessible parallel parking in order to thrive.  Reducing the travel lanes and adding parking will naturally reduce the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard to the 35 mph it should be.  As it stands now the current design speed is 45 mph. The MiMo Historic District is a commercial corridor, not a highway. Ten miles-per-hour would make an enormous impact in terms of economic development and pedestrian friendliness.

Many community stakeholders know and believe that in order to reduce crime we need more density and a business and pedestrian friendly streetscape design. Building a porous $70,000 fence will not achieve the desired reduction in crime.  With $70,000 ALL the neighborhoods from the Upper East Side could come together in a charrette and work towards a safer and more prosperous community. I believe this is a far better use of the Quality of Life funds that are meant to improve the quality of life for the ENTIRE Upper East Community and not just Belle Meade.

Respectfully,

Felipe Azenha

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This morning I sat down with Tony Cho, President and Founder, of Metro I Properties to chat about his on going projects in Wynwood and the Design District. His company is a full-service real estate brokerage and investment firm that focuses on infill redevelopment of the urban core.  Metro 1 focuses on properties east of I-95 from downtown Miami to NE 54 Street.  What about the MiMo District in the Upper East Side, I asked? Tony Cho’s response:

I believe an anti-development climate exists in the Upper East Side, which makes it difficult for businesses and economic development and continues to further depress real estate values. I think the MiMo BID can help, but ultimately development will bring investment and density and more businesses to the area.

I live on the Upper East Side and I must admit  that the truth hurts. The T3 (2 Stories) designation is stifling redevelopment. I have to agree with Tony and say that 35′  T3  lobby has effectively suppressed property values in the area and will not make our neighborhood any safer because it does not encourage density. The few developments that are in the process of being permitted are all 1-story buildings that DO NOT add enough pedestrians to Biscayne Boulevard. Why are these developers choosing to build only one story? My guess is that it is not economically worthwhile to build a second floor or developers may choose to sell their density bonuses. If the Upper East Side Biscayne Boulevard corridor were to be designated T5 (5 stories) I think we would see developers building 5 stories and not choosing to build less or sell their density bonuses.

We need density, not bad density (10 stories), but GOOD density (5 stories). The 35-foot height limit restricts density in our neighborhood, removing an important motive for developers to invest in the area. On the other hand T5 zoning is attractive to developers, and with Miami 21′s pedestrian friendly zoning, it will bring a good scale of density and development to the area.  T5 zoning allows developers to build structures like the Balans Café building on Biscayne Boulevard and NE 68th Street.  This building is not out of scale and is sensitive to the surrounding single-family homes.

Balans Cafe. Building on Biscayne Boulevard taller than 35'.

This building is an example of good density; retail on the bottom floor with residents living on the floors above. This type of development provides for a symbiotic relationship between businesses and residents. It also helps reduce auto-dependency.

Wake up Upper East Side! If you want your property values to rise and you want your neighborhood to become safer you should support higher intensity infill development.  On the other hand, if you want the neighborhood to stay the same (crime, drugs, prostitution) then let’s keep the 35-foot height limit and not encourage development in the area.  No fence or wall will keep you safe as long as Biscayne Boulevard remains a cesspool of crime, drugs and prostitution.  In order to change the reality of Biscayne Boulevard we need people living and doing business (not turning tricks) on Biscayne Boulevard.  We need to support mixed-use development and the only way this can be done is if the height limit on Biscayne is increased to actually allow five stories.

Not all development is bad, nor are all developers evil. There are plenty of good developers with good intentions in Miami. As a community we need to support more intense development if we want our property values to rise and reduce crime. There is plenty of research out there to support that walkable neighborhoods have higher property values and are safer; the more eyes on the street the less crime. We shouldn’t allow the voice of the few who lobbied for 35′ height limit to further allow our neighborhood to fall into decay.

Please send Commissioner Mark Sarnoff an email and let him know that you support pedestrianizing Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side. Also, please ask him to apply pressure on FDOT to re-stripe Biscayne Boulevard. Biscayne Boulevard needs to be business and pedestrian friendly.  It’s all about economic development. We need density, a street people can actually cross, and parallel parking so businesses can thrive.

 

The following letter was sent to Gus Pego,  District 6 Secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, from Scott Timm, outgoing Executive Director of the MiMo Business Improvement Committee. Scott and other MiMo stakeholders like Barabara Gimenez and Nancy Liebman have been vocal proponents of improving pedestrian conditions on Biscayne Boulevard, recognizing the connection between successful commercial frontage, and vibrant pedestrian culture.

Mr. Pego,

As you know, the MiMo Business Improvement Committee (BIC) has been advocating modifications to the current design of Biscayne Boulevard, especially the section between 61st and 77th Streets. I understand that at the time the project was being presented to the community, there were competing interests and requests that resulted in the current design. And I certainly understand that budgets are tight, and would not advocate needlessly spending taxpayer dollars.

But the current design of Biscayne Boulevard is a disaster, and it is only a matter of time before someone is killed or seriously injured along this stretch. Your office says that more enforcement is the solution to the problem. Do parents with small children rely on enforcement only to protect their youngsters from danger, say from toxic chemicals under the sink? No, they add easy-to-install cabinet locks to make the environment safer, so that 24/7 enforcement is NOT required. Why insist we spend millions of taxpayer dollars on ongoing enforcement solutions when the roadway could be designed once to enforce safe speeds and conditions?

This item recently posted to the TransitMiami blog illustrates the all-too-common problem - speeding cars flying off the road and smashing streetlight poles and bus shelters. This has been a ongoing occurrence in this neighborhood, and yet all of our meetings with your staff end with the apology that “there’s nothing we can do.”

We think there is something you can do. The MiMo BIC has proposed a re-striping scenario to restore parallel parking to Biscayne Boulevard, creating safer sidewalks for pedestrians and safer speeds for motorists. We’re told that FDOT can do nothing until Biscayne Boulevard is identified as a priority, specifically in the City of Miami’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan (MCNP).

Interestingly enough, we are in the MCNP. Policy TR-1.4.5 defines the “Urban Street” as “a pedestrian and vehicular way whose primary function is to serve adjoining residential neighborhoods and the businesses that serve them.” The policy identifies some city roadways as prime examples of Urban Streets, and Biscayne Boulevard is the first one listed. Quoting further from the MNCP: “Principles that will guide the design process will include, as appropriate: lower design speeds and control of traffic volumes utilizing traffic calming devices including but not limited to modification of lane widths consistent with lower design speeds; wide sidewalks; medians; roundabouts; landscaping; attractive lighting; creative and informative signage; on-street parking; and other design features and amenities as appropriate.”

All we want is a neighborhood that is safe for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. A neighborhood that will encourage pedestrian activity as a way to revitalize the local businesses. A neighborhood where the historic roadway serves as a point of pride. Unfortunately, the current design of Biscayne Boulevard is flawed, and for the sake of safety - if not esthetics -  it needs to be repaired before someone else is injured or killed.

I would also encourage you to become a regular reader of the TransitMiami blog. There you will learn about problem spots throughout Miami-Dade County where pedestrians and cyclists are forced to fight for their lives; spots that could be made safe with simple roadway design changes.

For personal and family reasons, I am leaving my position at the MiMo BIC, to return north. But know that the BIC, and scores of local residents, business owners, and property owners, will continue to advocate for safer streets and sensible design. We hope that FDOT will partner with us in that journey.

Thank you,

Scott Timm, Executive Director of the MiMo Business Improvement Committee

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