Currently viewing the tag: "Downtown Miami"
Speaking of curb cuts, I was passing along NE 2nd Avenue and was completely disgusted to experience firsthand the atrocities permitted to occur on the backside of the buildings facing Biscayne Bay. The term Biscayne wall is quite fitting as the backsides of these towers were clearly designed to resemble the blank slate of a concrete wall, keeping pedestrians well away. The worst part of all, as we’ve discussed before, is the lack of adequate transit integration and pedestrian facilities along this route. The blank backsides will almost ensure that any use of metromover by building residents is inhibited by vehicular needs. The parking entrances of these buildings should have been relegated to the minor cross streets (NE 11, 10, 9, etc.) instead of the major thoroughfare with DIRECT rail transit access. Even worse is the street activity. Aside from an existing pawn shop, the only street activity these buildings will be seeing is parking garage access… From now own, we’re calling this the Biscayne Blunder

I figured Chopin’s Funeral March would fit this slide well because this street is good as dead Dead…

All part of today’s massive power failure…Image Via Miami Herald…

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Add Los Angeles to the list of cities looking to resurrect their former streetcars. The Red Line (pictured above operating on SF’s Muni) is seen as a pivotal part of LA’s multi billion dollar plan to resurrect the Broadway Theater District. The “Bring Back Broadway Initiative” aims to rebuild a downtown corridor once bustling with entertainment, nightlife, and shops.

Bringing Back Broadway will create a plan for a vibrant Broadway district that provides entertainment, eclectic cultural amenities and diverse retail options for Downtown residents and visitors to one of Los Angeles’ most remarkable historic areas, while serving as a central focus for revived downtown streetcar transportation.

An innovative aspect of this project is the involved financial participation of private investements along the corridor. Immediately parallels with Miami’s Flagler Street come to mind. A corridor once filled with life, shops, and bustling with activity, we can learn from Los Angeles by creating public/private partnerships to redevelop this critical downtown corridor.
Much more fundraising is left to be done if the ambitious effort is to be realized, and of paramount importance is getting all property owners involved in their share of the rehab. Standing outside the Los Angeles after the presentation, Michael Delijani pointed to the $1 million in yearly assessments collected by the Historic Downtown BID as a sign that owners would do their part. He told how improved cleaning and trash collection have already bettered the Broadway streetscape.

The map below depicts the once far reaching tracks of the former Pacific Electric lines in Los Angeles:

The University of Miami is making a crucial investment in Miami’s Health District, expanding current facilities as it looks towards building a 1.4 million square foot life sciences research park. The new research center, pictured above, is a crucial part of Miami’s continued economic growth and diversity. The facility will serve as a catalyst for the Bioscience community while creating a wide variety of well paying jobs. This is certainly the type of growth our city needs.

“Life science companies such as Schering-Plough, Boston Scientific, Beckman Coulter, Cordis, Noven Pharmaceuticals and others contribute to the biotech economy in the county, said Beacon Council President and CEO Frank Nero. About 17,000 people are employed by more than 1,400 life sciences companies in the county, which contributes about $2.3 billion in total annual revenue, according to the Beacon Council.”

Private investment will flock around the Miami research facilities creating a local hub for biological, pharmaceutical, and chemical research. Our community now needs to take the necessary steps to integrate our up and coming facilities with the surroundings; by providing adequate rail connections to the surrounding neighborhoods with the Miami streetcar, easy access to the FAU Scripps research facility in Palm Beach, and creating affordable and accessible housing. Braman can moan all he wants about spending taxpayer money on infrastructural upgrades, but without these crucial forms of transit, the Health district and much of Miami will never reach their full potential.

Um is also planning on restoring one of Miami’s oldest structures, Halissee Hall, to its former grandeur. Originally constructed in 1914 by John Sewell a Miami pioneer and former mayor, the house will be home to the School of Medicine’s Faculty Club and will host receptions, conferences and lectures.

“Sandwiched between Highland Park and the Golf Links is a massive stone building, the residence of John Sewell, shoe salesman and the third mayor of Miami. Started on July 20, 1913 it was situated on the highest elevation in the City of Miami. Sewell called his home Halissee Hall [locator], “Halissee” being the Seminole word for “New moon.” In his book, Miami Memoirs, Sewell writes that Halissee Hall was built with “boulder rock grubbed up on the hill” with which he built “the best home in Florida, not the most expensive, but the best home, with eighteen-inch walls of solid stone and cement, three stories high, with a half-acre of floor space.” The original entrance to Halissee Hall, two pillars, can be seen just south of the 836 Expressway near NW 10th Avenue.”

UM could learn from MIT, who over the past decades purchased the land immediately surrounding the campus and constructed offices building to lease back to private companies. Industry soon moved into the area to harvest the brainpower of the faculty and utilize the resources of the student body.

Last night I was in downtown Miami’s Bicentennial Park playing for the first time in the WAKA Kickball League with a group of friends. The park was packed around the four makeshift fields as over 16 teams played. The event is sponsored by Gordon Biersch in Brickell where most teams returned to after for discounted drinks and food.

Downtown was already abuzz due to the Hanah Montana concert next door, but to me it was simply amazing to see this neglected park come full of life after hours. Whatever becomes of Bicentennial/Museum Park, we must ensure that space is left for after hour activities. In addition to our crowds of spectators, we also had a few local homeless folks watching, laughing, and having a great time. I couldn’t agree more with Paul George; Miami’s “Front Porch” is ready for a revival…

Great news, Miami — we’re getting an old gem of a park back in the heart of downtown! That’s right, the former Paul Walker Park, which was hairbrainishly allowed to be taken over by a restaurant back in the 90’s, will be completely transformed into a 4,200 square ft. pocket park at 46 W. Flagler St (W. Flagler & NW Miami Ct).

The park will be designed as a passive open space for downtown workers or other residents to enjoy a moment of relaxation while in the area. According to Commissioner Sarnoff, who has championed this project both vocally and with special commission financing, the park will resemble Paley Park in Manhattan, which is a lovely pocket park lauded by William Whyte in the Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. It is set to have a waterfall, walkways, picnic tables, and seating areas, potentially with a wireless hot spot on sight.

The park project will be funded by the Miami Downtown Development Authority and money from Commissioner Sarnoff’s “quality of life” bond. According to Capital Improvement Projects director Ola Aluko, construction on the park could begin as early as this March.

With several of our readers expressing doubts (some outright disdain) about the recently revealed design for the new Miami Art Museum, I recommend attending the exhibition at the present day MAM for any of those interested in finding out more.

Although still a work in progress (and the title of the exhibit) there is much to be gleaned from the show, including insights into the process of the architects. One element I was excited to see was the detailed, artful execution for the roof. All of the residents along the Biscayne corridor should be happy to see this, in light how little consideration is usually given to the roof of any building. The American Airlines Arena was good enough to employ a plane graphic making the roof acceptable and advertisement. The new MAM however will read more as a modernist composition from high above. Significant even for planes flying in to MIAMI International Airport. The path of this growing institution gets more and more interesting.

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A Glimpse of the new Metromover cars soon to hit the downtown rails:

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The little engine that hopes it can. It remains to be seen if the Metromover will prove to be, at least the first link in a more effective chain of public transport for the new residences in downtown. The glacial pace of transit progress for Miami seems impossible to influence. But at least we have the little blue train.


Over the weekend, the Herald shed light on an encouraging trend beginning to take hold downtown - developers are finally building projects WITHOUT ANY ON-SITE PARKING. As we’ve been saying since practically the inception of TM, minimum parking requirements have been cancerous in virtually every part of Miami, particularly downtown. These minimum parking requirements mandate developers to spend tens-of-thousands-of-dollars per space, which serves only to reinforce Miami’s harmful, unlivable, unsustainable auto-centric culture. It induces driving demand, which clogs streets and pollutes our air. It fractures urban continuity with retched surface lots and massive, monolithic garage pedestals. It makes it very difficult to improve transit and walkability.

However, we all win when projects are built with little or no parking, especially in the urban core and near transit stations. It allows developers to save money, which translates to much more affordable housing, which is badly needed throughout Miami and South Florida. It allows for a more cohesive urban block structure, which with proper planning translates to much better pedestrian environments. It also encourages people to walk, bicycle, and take transit, which drives demand for enhancements in these sectors. And, fewer cars on the road means safer, more livable streets, less road rage, less pollution, less noise, and more attention paid to our public spaces.

According to the Herald piece, the parking-free buildings recently constructed downtown (Loft 1 and Loft 2) have been so successful, the Related Group is now planning two more (Loft 3 and Loft 4), even in a slowed condo market. Moreover, another developer, Keystone Holdings, is also planning to construct parking-free condos downtown.

“Urban housing should not have parking on-site, especially work-force housing…Every great city has shared parking. But people in Miami have to be educated that that’s the way it should be.”

- Miami Real Estate Analyst Michael Cannon

It’s true. If Miami is ever destined to become a world-class city, characterized by great public spaces and livable streets, it must amend its traditional parking philosophies. While it’s traffic congestion that always ranks at the top of concerns for planners and residents alike, it’s vehicle storage that shapes urban life as much if not more than movement through space.

The important thing here is education. Most Miamians and South Floridians have preconceived notions about parking that are totally backwards. If we ever want to move in a new direction, we must not be afraid to educate others in our community that may not understand some of the counterintuitive principles of urban parking supply.

To better understand this topic, I highly recommend reading People, Parking, and Cities, by UCLA urban planning professor and renowned parking scholar, Donald Shoup. If you still want to know more, then I recommend The High Cost of Free Parking, by Shoup.

photo courtesy of www.miamiinvest.com

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We here at Transit Miami, would like to issue a heartfelt, sincere apology to our dedicated readers for our less than stellar content contribution lately. Each of us is currently wound up in our personal affairs and have naturally failed to allocate enough time to writing comprehensive, detailed articles on the latest transit/development issues. Fortunately for us, the past few weeks have been tame on the news fronts in these areas. Transit Miami readers, things will get better, I can attest to that. Our dedication is still as strong as the day we started this blog and our continued effort will be a testament to that. We have some exciting articles on the way and are working hard to instill the ideals of Transit Miami into the lives of every Miamian…

Some latest worthwhile stories:

  • City of Miami Commissioners foolishly rejected a plan to fund their $50 Million share of the port of Miami tunnel. A plan that would remove thousands of daily trucks, buses, and cars from the congested downtown streets somehow isn’t seen as a valuable enough asset worth of community development money. A word of advice to the commissioner who voted against the plan: try walking along these streets or open a sidewalk café at one of the new high-rises along Biscayne Boulevard and you’ll quickly see what kind of benefit the tunnel will provide the neighborhood…
  • Max Tower on the Way? We certainly hope so…The proposed 31 story tower rising in the media and arts district would provide just that; Media and Arts. The tower would become a hub for local production providing ample recording studio space and other media oriented amenities. It may be too late to save NBC, ABC, or CBS from abandoning the district but, hey who knows maybe we can begin to recentralize ourselves again?
  • Finally! The hideous pink wall along US-1 and the Bay Heights is set to receive a worthy makeover…
  • What’s life like in downtown? The Herald profiles some residents happy about their lifestyles changes…
  • Samuel Poole III shares his thoughts on Miami 21 and you know what? He’s right on the money…

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I took some time today to pay a visit to one of the two unique ships sitting in Miami’s harbor this weekend, the U.S. Eagle (watch the video), the United States’ only active duty tall ship (the other ship, HSV 2 Swift, was not allowing tours.) The U.S. Eagle, moored in the cut of land between the AA Arena and Bicentennial Park, provided visitors with a free, unique tour all weekend long. Visiting the ship docked at the blighted and underutilized park facility, further solidified in my mind the vision plan for Museum park. anchored by the Museum of Science and MAM’s likely iconic structures on the opposite end of the park, the cut where the U.S. Eagle was moored has also been envisioned to become the site of a floating museum (USS Barney Update: Guess Not), similar to the USS Intrepid in Manhattan but on a smaller scale. While visiting the iconic Coast Guard vessel, I was surrounded by an assortment of curious locals and tourists, all equally enjoying the experience, sights, and sunshine by the bay…

Riptide discusses plans for a possible Bay of Pigs Museum on Parcel B…The steering mechanism of the ship requires the attention of six sailors:Meanwhile, the derelict park served well as a surface parking lot for US Eagle visitors. Aside from those of us visiting the Eagle, the only other park visitors consisted of some homeless individuals and a few people fishing in the bay…

Historical tidbits from the USCG:
“The Eagle is a three-masted sailing barque with 21,350 square feet of sail. It is home ported at the CG Academy, New London, Connecticut. It is the only active commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services. She is one of five such training barques in world. Remarkably, her surviving sister ships include the Mircea of Romania, Sagres II of Portugal, Gorch Fock of Germany, and Tovarich of Russia.

Today’s Eagle, the seventh in a long line of proud cutters to bear the name, was built in 1936 by the Blohm & Voss Shipyard, Hamburg, Germany, as a training vessel for German Navy cadets. It was commissioned Horst Wessel and served as a training ship for the Kriegsmarine throughout World War II. Click here to read a translated-diary from a German naval cadet who trained aboard the Horst Wessel in 1937.

Following World War II, the Horst Wessel, in the age-old custom of capture and seizure, was taken as a war prize by the United States. Initially, the Soviet Union selected Horst Wessel during the division of Nazi vessels by the victorious Allies. The four available sailing ships had been divided into three lots-two large merchant ships being grouped together. The Soviets drew number 1, Great Britain number 2, and the U.S. number 3. Before the results of the draw were officially announced, the U.S representative, through quiet diplomacy, convinced the Soviets to trade draws.

And so, on May 15, 1946, the German barque was commissioned into U.S. Coast Guard service as the Eagle and sailed from Bremerhaven, Germany to New London, Connecticut. On her voyage to the United States she followed Columbus’s route across the mid-Atlantic. She rode out a hurricane during her trip and arrived in New London safely. She weathered another hurricane in September 1954 while enroute to Bermuda. She hosted OpSail in New York as part of the World’s Fair in 1964. She again hosted OpSail in 1976 during the United States’ Bicentennial celebration. She hosted the centennial celebration for the Statue of Liberty in 1986 as well.

One of the major controversies regarding the cutter was generated when the Coast Guard decided to add the “racing stripe” to her otherwise unadorned hull in mid-1976. She was the last cutter so painted and many in the sailing community decried the new paint job.

Eagle serves as a seagoing classroom for approximately 175 cadets and instructors from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Sailing in Eagle, cadets handle more than 20,000 square feet of sail and 5 miles of rigging. Over 200 lines must be coordinated during a major ship maneuver. The sails can provide the equivalent of several thousand through-shaft horsepower. The ship readily takes to the task for which it was designed. Eagle‘s hull is built of steel, four-tenths of an inch thick. It has two full length steel decks with a platform deck below and a raised forecastle and quarterdeck. The weather decks are three-inch-thick teak over steel.”

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Michael Lewis, from Miami Today News, has written a nice essay on Miami’s condo boom, including what it, and the inevitable bubble burst, means for the future of the city.

Check it out, here.

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The Herald has gotten involved…check it out.

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Before I begin, I’d like to thank all of our loyal readers who sent us copies of this article in the herald. Although we too had seen it, we’ve been busy working on investigating the new plan for Biscayne Boulevard and gathering as much information as possible to bring you the most comprehensive coverage. On that note, I’d like to thank everyone for their patience with our delinquent postings lately. Ryan, James, and I have a lot on our plates currently and we’re working hard to keep you well informed. With that said, if you have any comments, suggestions, or would like to apply to become a contributor on Transit Miami, feel free to contact us at movemiami@gmail.com. We will be working on introducing our newest writer over the next few weeks…

A plan is in the works to beautify and significantly enhance Biscayne Boulevard to make it a lusciously landscaped paradise for pedestrians. The initial phase of the plan calls for the re-alignment of Biscayne Boulevard south of the current phases of the Biscayne re-alignment project which has transformed the thoroughfare north of 5th street. The plan would move the Boulevard west, eliminating the current surface median parking, thus narrowing the street and creating approximately five acres of new park space along the western fringes of Bayside and Bayfront Park. This part of the plan is estimated to cost the city around $1 million, considering that FDOT would already be covering the re-alignment costs of the Boulevard.

A plan is already underway to beautify and realign the Boulevard from NE 5th Street to NE 13th Street. The Miller-Legg redesign is intended to better integrate a realigned Boulevard with the upcoming Museum Park project, providing better pedestrian access from the condominiums rising along the Biscayne Wall north to the promenade of the Carnival Center. The redesigned medians and curbs seen below feature an intricate brick design, abundant (we hope) foliage, and bus bays (perhaps streetcars, one day) fronting the new condominium developments:

The new proposed project further south, would mimic the successful design elements incorporated up north. The removal of the surface parking would significantly alter the width of the boulevard, making the menacing 8-lane behemoth a bit more manageable for pedestrians. Eliminating the useless (eyesore too, we might add) median parking will also provide about five extra acres of public space, which, if landscaped with shade trees will prove to be a boon to Bayfront Park and the River Greenway.

”This is as close to a no-brainer as you’ll ever find,” [Commissioner Marc Sarnoff] said. “It’s just wise and prudent for us to pursue this as quickly as possible.”

Other plans apparently appearing on an upcoming study of downtown Miami, includes a promising option of a joint-venture with a European company to construct an underground parking facility. This massive undertaking would reap large benefits for the Bayfront parks and whole downtown area. Allowing a private firm to construct and operate the parking facilities will allow the city to concentrate on other downtown area rehabilitation efforts. We’ll reserve judgment on this part of the project until more details are made public.

Via Homee’s Panoramio

”Now, people go to cities because they have an interest in seeing what the life of the city is like,” he said. The problem with downtown today, [Bernard Zyscovich] said, is it’s “not the kind of place you’d ever want to come back to, by and large.”

The incorporation of more public green space and pedestrian friendly design elements is only the beginning of a much needed downtown overhaul which should be well in the works. Over the next two weeks, we’ll address how these improvements will spread west throughout the city’s central core, riverfront, and into the design district, creating a city that is navigable for people and more importantly creating abundant public spaces…Stay tuned, Miami’s pedestrian transformation is only one piece of the puzzle, which when combined with streetcar, bike, streetscape, and shading improvements, will make Miami’s urban core one of the most accessible (and desirable) places to live and visit…

Update: Critical Miami presents an excellent Overlay of Museum Park Plans…

Update: Eye on Miami and Bob:Miami discuss plans for parcel B…

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