With the attention garnered on the appalling state of our downtown by Macy’s Florida CEO Julie Greiner last week, it appears that rehabbing downtown (with that, many of our street wanderers) is the hot conversation topic these days. Downtown is deplorable. We all know it; we’ve stated it countless times. The question is does anyone know what should be done?

Sometimes I get the feeling the Herald understands the problems which face our city, other times not. An article posted Saturday June 9, sought to address the issue, but instead began to paint a picture of how parking was the main reason why our downtown was in such a state of disarray.

“Parking is scarce and expensive, and by many accounts, vulnerable to vandals.”

Scarce and expensive parking also confounds turnaround efforts, limiting the appeal to upscale businesses. ”Parking is a headache,” said Carlos Narvaez, who works at the Radio Shack outlet on Flagler Street. “They broke into my car twice.”

Decentralization of our city’s urban core brought upon by sprawl has lead to the demise of our (and nearly every city in the U.S.) downtown, a problem which was in part induced by our addiction to the automobile. Suburbanites fail to realize that abundant, cheap (free), and traffic free parking are not sustainable in any urban core and efforts to increase any of these would only make matters worse along the sidewalks. The article fails to note in its quest for parking solutions, that the city recently completed a streetscaping project which added valuable on street parking throughout the Flagler corridor.

The more we isolate ourselves in our own “protective” vehicular cocoons, the worse the situation will become along the already desolate streets of downtown. A proven and successful method to combat downtown crime is to improve our street use, pedestrian activity, and with that public spaces/transportation. Radio shack and all downtown employees (especially lower wage workers) should reap the financial benefits that Metrorail and Metromover offer users compared to daily vehicular use.

Things get worse when the only mention of transit includes an armed robbery incident:

Nancy Blount, a family law attorney who was walking down Flagler near the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, recalled being ”robbed at gunpoint four or five years ago” when she took Metrorail.

It was obviously a life changing experience for Nancy, she couldn’t even remember the year…It’s beside the point and contributed nothing to the quality of this article other than to reiterate a negative stance against public transit in the minds of the readers.

How can we combat the Miami mentality if even our news stories are showing bias towards ineffective ways of thought? I believe the Herald should take it upon itself to not only inform readers of the problems downtown but should also offer well reasoned and educated solutions to the problems we face, instead of the typical half truths offered by everyday citizens…

Key Word Use:

  • Business (6)
  • Parking (5)
  • Homeless (4)
  • Traffic (2)
  • Filthy (2)
  • Pedestrian (1)
  • Metrorail (1)
  • Planning (0)
  • Transit (0)
  • Metromover (0)

8 Responses to All Eyes on Downtown

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Herald like all papers locally are not in the solution business. Their sole goal is to sell papers and nothing sells better than crime, blood or scandal. Because the Herald is short on solutions and big on problems it allows for a forum such as this to become so essential to our community’s public space. Through our comments, and your bringing to light the reality of the situation, we can bring forth solutions and begin to hack away at the problem. Also, calling the Herald and other papers out on their ignorance goes a long way. Maybe we can have a forum on potential solutions to our downtown problems, I would love to take part in that.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    This would make a great Letter to the Editor.

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  3. Chris Mora says:

    A armed robbery 4 or 5 years ago? How is that relevant with how much downtown (and the surrounded area) has changed?

    I have noticed a little downward trend in downtown but I attribute that to the construction headaches of the new buildings (street closures, pot holes, dusty side walks).

    I wish more people would read this blog and other similar ones b/c they would see a light at the end of the tunnel.

    I have lived in downtown now for 3 years and my mom has visited once. So I know the feeling… She is still holding on to her memories from living in the area in the 80′s.

    Me, I just bought a bike and cannot wait to pick it up Saturday to explore my ‘hood even more!

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  4. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Anon-
    I never said or Implied that the herald was in the solution business, The herald is clearly in the journalism business…With articles like these without proper facts or interviews and skewed points of view coming from the author, I can’t see them as journalists either…

    With respect to the forum idea, I value the integrity of this site as a discussion medium for members of our community and have been actively working to bring such a forum into fruition…

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Your doing a great job doing that, and I’m happy to have a voice on your blog even if I am anon.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I think part of the problem is retailers and big businesses haven’t seen any benefits of running/opening businesses in downtown. Real estate is cheaper in the suburbs and they don’t need to come up with architecturally appealing designs for their buildings. This could change once wealthier residents and their disposable incomes start moving to their new condos.

    On the government side, they could try to do more street beautification projects and things that could encourage pedestrian activity (and not harass people taking pictures of buildings). Also tax deals to attract new businesses. Maybe consider the creation of a pedestrian only street such as Lincoln Road (or like Stroget in Copenhagen, Florida and Lavalle Streets in Buenos Aires, etc) with cafes, restaurants, shops . Improve the Government Center Station (its outdated architecture and its rundown businesses), work on security and do something about the homeless (although most of them are harmless).

    Parking is not the problem in downtown. I know people many who live in Brickell and work in downtown and drive and pay for parking, instead of taking a cab or transit. If anything, parking should be scarce and expensive in downtown. Maybe create an additional tax to parking and use it for other kinds of improvements within downtown

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  7. www.Miami-Forum.com says:

    I think the biggest problem in regards to downtown is that once it turns dark, it almost becomes a ghost town. The main business close up and the majority of the people disappear.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I currently work in downtown and take the metro-rail in, besides the horrible ride that takes me through some of the worse neighborhoods in miami (you can tell i come from the northern part of the county)i think that coming to downtown is depressing there is nothing but concrete and cars, I only have to walk about two blocks from the train but I dread it because there is no shade unless you are on the west side of a building (east in the afternoon). My favorite way to describe Miami and our downtown area is how my boss says it “We have all the problems associated with a big city but none of the benefits”

    I feel that no matter how much we plan Miami is more than 20 years away from being a great large city.

    We have all the crime congestion and problems with transit, but no large amount of well paying jobs or huge amounts of entertainment other than south beach and some downtown clubs (which arent safe to go to most of the time because of the neighborhood) there is not anything here to do. Even in dallas a city which is sprawled out even greater than Miami it is easy to leave your home and find a place to have a meal other than a large chain restaurant.

    Hopefully when I move back here later on in life it will be a completely different city from when I move away in the spring.

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