Currently viewing the tag: "The Related Group"

Over the weekend, the Herald shed light on an encouraging trend beginning to take hold downtown - developers are finally building projects WITHOUT ANY ON-SITE PARKING. As we’ve been saying since practically the inception of TM, minimum parking requirements have been cancerous in virtually every part of Miami, particularly downtown. These minimum parking requirements mandate developers to spend tens-of-thousands-of-dollars per space, which serves only to reinforce Miami’s harmful, unlivable, unsustainable auto-centric culture. It induces driving demand, which clogs streets and pollutes our air. It fractures urban continuity with retched surface lots and massive, monolithic garage pedestals. It makes it very difficult to improve transit and walkability.

However, we all win when projects are built with little or no parking, especially in the urban core and near transit stations. It allows developers to save money, which translates to much more affordable housing, which is badly needed throughout Miami and South Florida. It allows for a more cohesive urban block structure, which with proper planning translates to much better pedestrian environments. It also encourages people to walk, bicycle, and take transit, which drives demand for enhancements in these sectors. And, fewer cars on the road means safer, more livable streets, less road rage, less pollution, less noise, and more attention paid to our public spaces.

According to the Herald piece, the parking-free buildings recently constructed downtown (Loft 1 and Loft 2) have been so successful, the Related Group is now planning two more (Loft 3 and Loft 4), even in a slowed condo market. Moreover, another developer, Keystone Holdings, is also planning to construct parking-free condos downtown.

“Urban housing should not have parking on-site, especially work-force housing…Every great city has shared parking. But people in Miami have to be educated that that’s the way it should be.”

- Miami Real Estate Analyst Michael Cannon

It’s true. If Miami is ever destined to become a world-class city, characterized by great public spaces and livable streets, it must amend its traditional parking philosophies. While it’s traffic congestion that always ranks at the top of concerns for planners and residents alike, it’s vehicle storage that shapes urban life as much if not more than movement through space.

The important thing here is education. Most Miamians and South Floridians have preconceived notions about parking that are totally backwards. If we ever want to move in a new direction, we must not be afraid to educate others in our community that may not understand some of the counterintuitive principles of urban parking supply.

To better understand this topic, I highly recommend reading People, Parking, and Cities, by UCLA urban planning professor and renowned parking scholar, Donald Shoup. If you still want to know more, then I recommend The High Cost of Free Parking, by Shoup.

photo courtesy of www.miamiinvest.com

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  • The Related Group of Florida is planning the Loft 4 Affordable Housing Condo for downtown Miami. The 404 units in the 35 story tower would be priced starting at $130,000! The best part yet? The building would feature no parking. Truly Urban Living is coming to the heart of the CBD for a change…
    • “If not for this type of concept, you wouldn’t be able to build because you can’t build parking” cost effectively, said Oscar Rodriguez, who heads Related’s affordable division. “That lends itself to more competitive pricing.”
  • Say goodbye to the HOV lanes on I-95. FDOT is working to bring “express” toll lanes to I-95 by 2008. Instead of the one HOV lane, the already gargantuan highway will be repainted to feature narrower 11 foot lanes, two of which will be designated for “express” toll use only. This plan allows users to buy themselves out of the hassles of finding people to carpool with. It’s a total cop out for FDOT and a massive waste of money. Never mind the fact that we wasted $17 Million to install a ramp metering system that was never used, let alone properly analyzed before it was installed. On the plus side, express buses will now run smoother along the corridor, question is, will anyone use them?
  • A US Senate committee rejected Homestead as a possible site for the US Southern Command HQ, currently stationed in Doral. SoCom will remain in Doral in an expanded facility for the next 50 years, at least…
  • Paddy Wagons and Cyclists, you know there is a critical mass happening when you see them together. Despite their best efforts, Miami’s second critical mass, wasn’t exactly too massive: 15 cyclists. Even with the low turnout, Miami Police decided to harass the cyclists, following their every move along the streets of downtown and keeping their beams on them until the group dispersed…
  • Inaccessible Parks. Enough Said. Most local parks are rendered useless to most of us anyway because of their poor designs, maintenance, and integration with their surroundings, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me to see that they aren’t even ADA accessible…
  • Check out what some properly designed bus benches, news stands, and restrooms do for the public spaces of NYC. Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the same firm hired to design Miami’s new Science Museum, the new citywide structures are built out of 95% recycled material…
  • Congratulations to Alesh for winning the Miami New Times’ best website of 2007 and Rick/Alex for winning Broward/Palm Beaches Best Blog Awards…
  • HSR…Where is the US? Touting an Acela Express that averages less than 60 mph…Pathetic…

Jorge Perez spoke out today at the City of Miami Commission Meeting clearing the names of Miami city officials who purchased condos in his affordable housing projects in downtown. He and city officials were recent targets in a Herald article which criticized the actions of related and city officials alike…

I started my trip as usual at the UM metrorail station. The station severely needs a pedestrian overpass to connect it with the already disjointed surroundings. Notice, any attempt to connect the station with its eastern surroundings will at best connect pedestrians with any of the many available parking lots of the strip shopping centers.

I arrived at the Brickell station in full view of some “urban design malpractice,” to quote Ryan’s previous post on the subject. The following pictures were taken either from the Metrorail platform or from the train just as we entered the station (I’m disappointed that Beethoven’s 5th No longer plays when the train arrives, what gives?) The first picture depicts the new Infinity at Brickell high-rise with its’ hideous massive blank wall left exposed facing the west. The next two pictures are of buildings adjacent to the metrorail platform. Notice the wide entrance to the parking garage in the first building (Brickell Station Villas designed by Alberto Otero) on the west side fronting the station. The third picture below depicts another new condo with an absurdly huge parking structure below making up more than half the size of the building. These designs are sad and pathetic considering their proximity to mass transit. A parking garage entrance shouldn’t front the station and their designs should be required to consider pedestrian activity. I don’t blame the architects or developers; this is clearly a regulatory issue and the result of a commission who approves nearly anything which comes before them…

The last time I passed by the Brickell metrorail station (nearly 8 months ago) the brickell metromover escalator was out of service. I was dismayed to see that this was obviously still the case. Great job Bradley!

I got off the mover by Mary Brickell Village, the disastrously planned retail center in the heart of Brickell which has been under construction for a few years now. I was dismayed however to see that this station’s escalator was too out of commission (that’s 0/2 for all of you keeping score.) Great job Bradley!

Pictured below is the site of the Brickell Financial Centre, which as I mentioned earlier was slated to officially break ground on Thursday. Despite the continued demolition of the mid-rise previously located on the site, an area with project plans and descriptions was set up on the former back parking lot.

When I arrived at the 5th street station, just beside the new Brickell on the River Condominium, I looked down to find two separate paths leading from the Station to the river-walk. One was apparently the “commoners” path while the one on the right side of the wrought iron fence was for the residents of the condo. Fenced in or gated condominiums severely detract from their urban surroundings and should not be allowed to rise in such central and prominent locations of our city. These tend to isolate residents from the surroundings, complicating building access for pedestrians and disconnecting them from the closely located transit and public river-walk…

Looking back inland, the beautiful rear end of 500 Brickell kept staring at me, asking why the developer had left such a plain wall facing the metromover station. A short walk around the building later demonstrated that the front end had been properly designed, with balconies and plenty of glass, it’s a shame the back side couldn’t have been granted the same architectural considerations.

Although the whole downtown has been morphed into a full scale construction zone, I was surprised to see adequate consideration taken for the area sidewalks. Although I appeared to be the only person walking around, the construction worker turned crossing guard was kind enough to halt passing street activity for me to cross.

From the Brickell Avenue Bridge looking west I saw further signs of a very disjointed river-walk taking shape. The newly completed Brickell on the River was sectioned off from the neighboring Riverview Complex which is apparently the docking point for some Miami PD boats (this is probably done as a local measure of (in)security…)

The CBD as we knew it has finally witnessed the removal of the last surface parking eyesores as the Metropolitan Miami Complex rises. In the foreground we see piles being driven for the most important tower rising in the CBD since the Bank of America Tower was completed in the 80’s, MET 2. MET 2 is our newest office skyscraper which will feature 600,000 square feet of office space in one tower and Miami’s first Marriot Marquis in an adjacent tower. Most importantly, MET 2 will dwarf the abysmally lackluster height and design of MET 1 (Center, under construction,) with a glass facade and parabolic glass shape similar to the Esprito Santo Bank tower on Brickell.

Pedestrian activity already disturbed along the river area due to the EPIC and MET construction is permanently obstructed by the pilings of the metromover.

One Miami can essentially be credited with being the project which started the latest vertical boom in Downtown Miami. Constructed by the Related Group of Florida and designed by local architect Arquitectonica (like most Related Group projects,) these twin 45 and 44 story towers were the first to test the downtown residential condo market in several decades. The real estate revival launched by this development since has been phenomenal. I was highly unimpressed by the entrance to the towers which obviously caters to vehicular movements while pedestrian access is relegated to a thin walkway alongside the tower entrance.

One Miami’s contribution to the public river-walk however, was highly impressive and one of the high points of my walk. The area was beautiful, providing ample seating along the tranquil north shore of the Miami River and overlooking Brickell Key. The One Miami river-walk contained various works of art, including a sculpture by Jose Bedia among others. Big Brother was noticeably present as was adequate lighting and access for One Miami residents. Hopefully Epic and the other buildings rising along the river will continue the precedent already established by One Miami.

Part one of my tour concludes with a view of the unfinished One Miami River-Walk leading into Bayfront Park. The dock on the right is the proposed station for any future ferry commuter boats traveling between the CBD and Aventura/South Dade. Part two of my walk will continue through Bayfront Park as I tackle the changes currently transforming what should be our most prominent urban park…

I took some time out of my weekend to give a Miami Native a first-time tour of Vizcaya. I often find that many Miamians have never ventured into Vizcaya, so I always volunteer to visit Miami’s most beautiful estate and give them my own personal tour. I was also interested in capturing some photographs of the view from the estate which soon may forever be altered if the City of Miami approves 300 Grove Bay residences, a project by The Related group, slated for a section of land just south of Mercy Hospital.
Personally, I’d have to agree that the buildings are out of context with their surroundings, but then again so are Mercy Hospital and the Grove Isle trio of towers. The traffic impact has likely been grossly miscalculated seeing that this is the equivalent of placing a skyscraper in suburbia, the only reasonable link between it and the surroundings will be vehicular. As for the visual impact, I think Vizcaya’s views will be pretty much unhampered. Mercy Hospital is currently visible from the grounds, as are the buildings on Brickell and Key Biscayne and yet they don’t seem to adversely impact the tranquility of the Gardens.
Since the last time I wrote on the Mercy Project, I still haven’t been able to come up with an valid enough stance either in favor or against the project. I lean against the project mainly because it continues the decentralization of skyscrapers that is so prevalent in Miami. Ultimately, I believe the towers would be better suited elsewhere, either north in the Brickell area or south in the Coconut Grove Business district, rather than in the Mercy site where they will forever be relegated as suburban towers only accessible by vehicles and disjointed from the bustling hubs to the north and south…

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