Somehow in all the posting Gabe and I have done over the past week, we failed to mention the recent developments regarding the Coconut Grove Transit Village project.

This last Wednesday, the Planning Advisory Board voted unanimously to recommend the City Commission not approve county-drafted zoning standards for the project. According to Chairwoman Arva Parks Moore, the standards for the project site were too general in that they did not include maximum limits for square footage or a minimum for residential units. Certainly the Grove NIMBYs were elated by the PAB’s vote, given their fervent contention that the two proposed mixed-use buildings were either way out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood at 19 stories, or missing key standards. While I am all in favor of high density development on this site, as well as adjacent to all metrorail stations, upon closer examination this project will be a disaster if built according to current specifications.

And no, I’m not referring to the height of these buildings – I’m referring to the massive amount of proposed parking. This project, proposed adjacent to a metrorail station and billed as a Transit Oriented Development infill project, is set to have a 611 space garage, 500 space garage, and 201 surface spaces. That’s over 1,300 parking spaces! Throw in the 204 surface spaces in the Grove Station’s park n’ ride lot, and you have over 1,500 parking spaces adjacent to a metrorail station that is two stops from downtown. Logistically, this is almost unfathomable. How can we expect anyone to ride transit in Miami when we keep building so car-oriented? Not only does this oversupply of parking induce travel to this location by automobiles and bastardize transit, it significantly increases the cost of the project and eliminates thousands of square feet that could have been used to build more affordable housing units.

It’s simple – as long as these kinds of projects keep getting built, especially next to transit stations, the likelihood Miami realizes its potential to become more sustainable, more pedestrian-oriented, and more transit-oriented is slim.

5 Responses to Auto Oriented Development

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is true, there is not enough to encourage using the alterntive transit that we have. It’s as if the county are enabling drivers car addiction. Why build next to a transit station if you aren’t going to fully utilize the station? We need more pressure on our commissioners to build more mass transit, and to fully utilize the transit we have through planned zoning.

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  2. Michael Emilio + Miami Real Estate says:

    It really is essential that Miami cleans up the transportation system – a vibrant area like South Florida needs this! Great article!

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  3. madeindade says:

    The dumb fucks at transit don’t care about the quality of the project, whether it’s pedestrian friendly, or encourages transit use… all they care about is how much their lease will net over its 99-year term. Just look at the sellar quality (I am being sarcastic) of the joint development at Overtown, Santa Clara, Earlington Heights, MLK, and soon Okeechobee stations. All of these doen’t even rise to the level of being shitty and we keep making the same mistakes over and over…

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  4. Jeff says:

    > Why build next to a transit station if you aren’t going to fully utilize the station?

    “Chicken, meet Egg.” People won’t use transit unless their destinations are within easy walking distance. Investors won’t build unless they can hedge their bets — benefitting from proximity to transit if they can, but not risking their investment on it. Give Adam Smith a LITTLE credit. When the day comes that the buildings’ owners think they can make more money by converting the top floor of the parking garage into more offices or leasable space, they’ll be the first in line to bribe our elected officials and make it happen.

    Remember, every square foot of parking in a pedestal garage is NOT a square foot taken away from housing, retail, or offices. Most towers are designed to totally max out their allowable FAR, then add as much parking as they think they’ll need (or they’re required to have available). Since parking doesn’t come out of FAR, it’s not zero-sum. When you cut the accounting bullshit, the real hard construction cost of one more floor of parking comes out to about $2,000-5,000 per space that can be sold and deeded to a buyer for $10,000 or more (the frequently misrepresented $20k/space figure only approaches reality for a freestanding garage with no other uses in the same building; in a condo or office that’s already maxed out its FAR, land and foundation are sunk costs that can be factored out as irrelevant). At the end of the day, a skyscraper developer would have to be completely INSANE to skimp on parking, because it’s one of the few components of a development project where market value relative to cost really IS the only limiting factor.

    Too often, transit proponents end up being their own worst enemies. If you force elected officials and the public to choose between cars and transit, transit will lose… and lose badly. Focus on ENABLING people to take advantage of transit, and put away the big stick before the public gets mad, grabs it away from you, angrily breaks it in half over their knee, and throws the two halves back in your general direction.

    Take a cue from the medical profession: First, do no harm. Make sure that every transit project you propose can be shown to have zero negative impact on drivers when complete, even if it raises the cost (and don’t even THINK about claiming it will get drivers off the road… it won’t, it never has, and voters know it. The fastest way to lose all credibility with the public is to claim otherwise). It’s not a coincidence that Dade County voters tend to get warm, happy feelings about extending Metrorail, but dig in and fight like cornered tigers whenever light rail and bus projects are proposed. Metrorail doesn’t interfere with traffic, so taxpayers who have no intention of ever personally using it can still support it in the hope that it will get OTHER drivers off the road to make more room for them (even if deep down inside, they know it’s just a fantasy). Politics is the art of getting people to do the right thing for the wrong reason. Embrace it, run with it, and make EVERYONE happy — transit riders and drivers alike.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I have always agreed that the Metrorail and Metromover should have strong priority at being expanded over other forms of transit since they ride on a different 2D plane than other types of traffic and therefore at the least, cause no extra traffic jams.

    I think this is also what makes any large city’s subway so useful. The fact that it rides beneath (or above) the city’s main street level traffic and doesn’t exacerbate any already existing traffic problems. And hopefully one day, once that city reaches a certain density threshold (like NYC has long ago) more people will use the subway than street traffic since that subway can get them within 6 blocks of nearly anywhere they wanna go, and by then of course street traffic will be so limited and frustrating (ever tried parking in Manhattan?) as to deter it. However the only way to achieve that in Miami for now, is to continue expanding the Metrorail to useful locations like the Airport, Port of Miami, Dolphin stadium, FIU, FIU north, Homestead, Kendall, Doral, South Beach, etc…

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