Currently viewing the tag: "Dadeland"

This post was submitted to us this morning by Patricia Peña.

Dadeland mall is probably one of the biggest landmarks that Miami has, right next to South Beach and the Triple A (well, at least in my opinion). When it first opened in the 80s, it was the beginning of Miami’s eternal love with suburban sprawl, which has resulted in Kendall, a place that most Miamians have a love/hate relationship with. You can’t wait to get out of Kendall, but you’ll rep it until the day you die, in true Miami style! Sunset Knights, wha what?! Sorry, that was a momentary lapse…

Back to Dadeland. In the last few years, they have tried to revitalize the area, rebrand it as Downtown Dadeland (it’s unincorporated Miami-Dade, let’s not kid ourselves) and try to make it into a small, bustling metropolis with multi-use buildings, restaurants and shops. And try as they might, it just isn’t happening. When my husband and I moved to the area about five years ago, we did so because my job at the time offered me a free monthly pass to the Metro-Rail, so we became a one car family and I was thrilled with the idea that I could walk to Target or Publix to get what we needed whenever he was away at work with the car. I got one of those little carts that you see old people walking around with. A lady at work offered to bedazzle it. It was fabulous, don’t judge me. So here I go, all excited to get my groceries. And then…. BAM!! I encountered Kendall Drive. Now, for those of you that are not familiar with this lovely thoroughfare, it’s a pedestrian’s worst nightmare. Think of George in the episode of Seinfeld when he gets the Frogger machine.

The Dadeland area has the potential of being a truly amazing area to live, work and play in. It’s flanked by two, count ‘em: two, Metro Rail stops. There are apartments galore, some that are still mostly empty, the mall is currently undergoing a massive renovation to add more restaurants. And yet, you can’t get anywhere walking without saying five Hail Mary’s, two Our Father’s and crossing yourself the entire time. I’ve seen old ladies, moms with strollers, dad’s dragging kids and tourists all trying to cross unscathed. As expected, this is a three-lane road, that feeds into the Palmetto (don’t even get me started on that disaster!) and speeding is not only rampant, it’s expected! Now, we all know that reducing the number of lanes will in turn reduce the speed, increase walkability, and increase traffic into stores, etcetera. But, I’m a simple woman, I don’t ask for much. I know that that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. So I’m asking for smaller things. You know what I would like? I would like a crossing light that lasts more than 10 seconds. I can’t even get halfway before the flashing hand stops! I would like the streetlights to be synchronized in a way that makes sense, so people can feel safe crossing from their hotel to the mall. I know if it makes sense, we don’t do it here in Miami-Dade County. But once, just once, can we try? South Miami did it, and look how great it’s working out for them. I would just like to be able to go the Target at the Dadeland station, without fearing for my life and getting honked at every five seconds (which is more to do with the fabulous drivers we have here, but that’s another topic for another time). Seriously, I’m not asking for much, just some good old fashioned common sense and to think of the people that are outside of the metal boxes, who are worth just as much as the ones inside. That and world peace. Oh, and some Louboutins!

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What seems out of place in this picture?  If you guess the triangular sliver of grass amid all the concrete and parking, then you guessed right.  I was browsing through the most recent copy of the LRTP or TIP, don’t remember which one but that is besides the point, when I came across some preliminary plans to acquire this sliver of land from the FEC.  The plan, of course, would be for MDT to convert this last remnant of green space into further surface parking for the Dadeland North Metrorail station.

Now, I realize the importance of parking for metrorail, especially given our commuter-like use of the train and extremely autocentric lifestyles, but the pragmatist in me doesn’t see the need, especially when the immediate surroundings are already paved over with under-utilized land.  Simon Malls certainly isn’t using all of their available parking, why can’t we learn to work with our neighbors first?  The problem with metrorail, contrary to common belief, isn’t that “it doesn’t go anywhere” but that we haven’t constructed anything of any value around it.  Sure Dadeland is a step away, but who wants to walk between 3 parking structures, just to walk under the teal pathway which meanders through the sea of parking? If Miami plans to make any significant upgrades to metrorail or any of our urban centers, we must begin around our existing transit nodes.  It’s bad enough this ROW won’t be used to connect downtown Kendall with the MIC using an LRT…

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We turn our attention once again today to the East Kendall Homeowners (Association? Organization? Federation? Coalition of the willing?) to discuss the initial purpose of the group’s existence. The EKHO was formed in June 2005 in opposition to the former Dadeland Breezes development, slated for N Kendall Dr. and 77th Ave. An excerpt from their site:

“A massive development called “Dadeland Breeze” is being proposed for our neighborhood. This development will demolish the 3 story apartment buildings at N. Kendall Drive & S.W. 77 Ave. in order to construct a complex of 8 condominium towers up to 8 stories high with nearly a 100% increase in the density of the existing buildings. This proposed construction project is clearly incompatible with the low-rise scale of our “East Kendall” residential neighborhood…”

I’d like to speak to the person who reasoned that an 8 story building was “out of character” with the neighborhood, but the Palmetto expressway, expansive parking lots of Dadeland Mall, or the gargantuan 6 lanes of Kendall drive just blended in seamlessly with the surroundings. The fact that most East Kendall residents don’t likely walk to their local Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, or Mall is the most alarming part of this discussion. Furthermore, I find it kind of hypocritical when a group speaks out against a project of greater density because of “increased traffic” but yet also goes against measures to bring public transit to their neighborhood. Is it the development that East Kendall fears or is it a change in the way of life?

“…It will worsen our already bad traffic, further burden our over-capacity schools, and have a negative impact on the quality of life of our families.”

Yahtzee! “Impact on the quality of life” Now, what impact precisely is anyones guess, but a change that will have us living a more vertical, sustainable, and likely healthier life doesn’t sound so bad, that is, unless you like idling in traffic along US-1 or Kendall bouncing around from parking lots to fast-food drive-throughs.

What many Miami residents, organizations, etc. fail to realize is that change and progress are a way of life. Had such powerful opposition existed in the early 1900’s, much of our prized downtown Brickell land could still look much like it did in 1915:

Imagine that? The Four Seasons was once a 2 story bungalow. By now we surely would have paved clear across the everglades and into Naples had someone not decided to build vertical…

Try explaining that and the benefits of sustainable growth to these folks, the EKHO, a group of citizens obviously set in their ways and accustomed to the lousy quality of suburban life:

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