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!

9 Responses to Miami’s Newest Urban Square?

  1. Emperor Tomato says:

    What a fine idea.

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  2. tom says:

    maybe we should just occupy it and make it a park before they try to build some McCondo tower.

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  3. FIU student says:

    I’m really glad you guys brought this up, because I’ve always viewed that plot of land as the ideal area for a great ubran park. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just some trees and a few sidewalks, that’s it.

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  4. Felipe Azenha says:

    I’m all for a park. Downtown Miami has no green space whatsoever. If Miami wants to bring young professionals to live and work in downtown, a park should be designated. Right now there aren’t any parks to take your kids to play or to teach them to ride a bike. Knowing this city, they’ll build some nastee concrete struture.

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  5. mike lydon says:

    Felipe, you raise an excellent point that there is not a lot of programmed open space (note, there are a lot of vacant lots, depending on how you calculate what is downtown). However, Bayfront Park has some great attributes, including a new playground that I photographed this weekend. I saw people using the river walk, out around to the front of the bay, and people walking and jogging. It is also well maintained. that being said, its not actively programmed enough. They have yoga, and trapeze, the occasional concert (which should change once the big name media corporation finishes their renovations), but has yet to provide a stable and consistent attraction. It’s also fairly far away from most parts of Brickell, with an unpleasant walk in between, due to all of the construction. Bay front has great potential,and its not as bad as it seems. If and when museum park is finished, it will provide a nice front room to the city.

    However, a big urban park, does not serve the same function as a square. Squares aren’t as large and they are typically more urban in their construction, think more hardscape than greenery…but not necessarily. They should be distributed within neighborhoods, with a few more important civic squares where civic buildings or activities occur.

    Believe or not, the best square that i know of in miami, maybe the only one, is a nice simply square park in buena vista west. Maybe i will document that one next week.

    Mike

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  6. TransitDave says:

    Great minds think alike..I drive by this every day, and I’ve often imagined the larger parcel as a park, the smaller parcel with a fine Hotel like NYC’s Plaza hotel…….The developer could donate the park land, thus sheltering the income from the hotel….Maybe Jorge Perez will do this…we can dream………sigh

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  7. Dave says:

    There is also the large property for sale on the south east corner of the intersection of 8th street and S miami ave as well, not to mention the land just north of MBV and the large parcel on the river just north of Brickell on the River and the parcel just South of that. This section of S Miami Ave has loads of potential if these properties ever get developed.

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  8. Dave says:

    I meant the property just west of Brickell on the River, not north in my previous post.

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  9. Chris says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned this! For years I’ve dreamed of these two lots becoming parks. I think they are perfect spots. Unfortunately, the city hasn’t done anything to make it happen.

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