Currently viewing the tag: "Public Realm"

There is a book launch event this Sunday, March 2, for STREET DESIGN: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns hosted by the City of Coral Gables and Books and Books. Selected streets from our very own Coral Gables, South Miami and Miami Beach are highlighted in the book to exemplify the true value of properly designed, pedestrian-friendly streets. This how-to guide is written by locally-based planner, Victor Dover, and NYC architect, John Massengale.

Coral Gables’ Director of Planning & Zoning, Ramon Trias, will make introductory remarks, followed by a short presentation by Victor Dover. The book will be on sale in the Museum gift shop.

STREET DESIGN cover

What: Reception, Talk & Book Signing with Victor Dover 

When: Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Where: Coral Gables Museum, Community Meeting Room located at 285 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, Florida 33134

RSVP on Facebook

Santa Maria Street, Coral Gables

If you are like some of us here at TM, then you have probably had your eye on a couple of very strategic vacant parcels in downtown Miami. Located between Southwest 8th Street and Southwest 7th Street, and bisected by South Miami Avenue, the two sites have sat fallow while high-rise condominiums sprouted like mushrooms. According to a recent Miami Today article the land was previously owned by Brickell CitiCentre, LLC (cute spelling, huh?), a developer with plans to build $2.2 billion worth of high-rise buildings, including the tallest building in downtown Miami. The sharp market downtown nixed those plans quickly, causing the BCC to sell the land to an undisclosed party, who paid an undisclosed price and who has undisclosed plans. So what will they think of next?!

The two parcels, comprising 5.65 acres, are outlined in orange.

Parcel 2, looking northeast

While high-rise, mixed-use development is surely warranted in downtown Miami, TM would like to disclose an alternate plan recommendation. Keep in mind we do not know what the new developer has planned, but we doubt it is a well-designed, well-programmed, well-framed usable urban square on at least one of the sites. Such a square could be simple in its layout, but flexible in its use-a farmer’s market, civic events, concerts, play structures, dog park and a nice water feature to help us all cool off. Such a program would be a nice place to start and invite people of all types to linger with family, eat lunch with colleagues, make-out with a loved one, skateboard with angsty friends, beg rich people for money and the myriad of other things people do in an almost messy, but truly successful public space.

Such a square would be well-connected to the existing bus lines and MetroMover, providing easy access to those living outside of downtown. It would also provide a much needed open space destination in the heart of our downtown, an area that has become increasingly privatized by individual condominium developers who provide all amenities internally. Such vertical cul-de-sacs surely allow great luxury for residents, but impoverish the public realm. A real shame, if you ask me. Miami deserves better. All great cities have a great park and a great civic square.

Whatever the next developer proposes, the City should consider the possibility of a public/private partnership. Such a deal could allow increased development capacity on the buildable site, a tax-break or other public incentives in exchange for one of the sites being turned over to the City for the development of civic space, like a square.

This would not only add tremendous value to those already existing nearby condos, but directly enrich the adjacent development parcel. If you have seen real estate prices next to other such sites in cities like Chicago, San Francisco or New York City, then you know the captured value is well-worth the land concession.

Unfortunately, with so much money exchanging hands, this is very unlikely to happen. I imagine the City of Miami could have at one point bought this land, reserving some for development and some for civic space. But they didn’t. And we understand we may be Johnny-come lately here, but later this week Gabriel will show us some good examples from other cities.

If you know of other great sites in the Miami for a square of similar type of public space, let’s hear about them!

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