Currently viewing the tag: "Coconut Grove"
I attended the Cocoanut Grove Village Council meeting at City Hall last night, and was pleasantly surprised by the county’s renderings for the beautification of SW 27th Avenue in the Grove. Although it is only in the 30% completion phase, it appears to be moving in a positive direction. Unfortunately, I do not currently have pictures of the proposal, but I’ll share a few of the major tenets of the project:

  1. Sidewalks: It appears that after years of embarrassing pedestrian-infrastructure, the county is planning on implementing sidewalks on both sides of 27th avenue in a uniform manner along the entire stretch of road south of US-1. It’s sad that I have to even mention sidewalks, given that they are as fundamental a part of a city as any piece of infrastructure, but in Miami this is never a given. I am a little disappointed that the new sidewalks are only proposed to be six feet wide; I would like to see 10-12 feet sidewalks throughout the avenue.
  2. Bike Lanes: Groveites, as well as any Miamian who frequents the neighborhood, should be very happy to learn that bike lanes are proposed for both sides of 27th Avenue south of US-1. This will be one of the first avenues anywhere in Miami or Miami Beach to get real bike lanes, which is quite a mystery given the fantastic riding conditions year-round. Now bicyclists who ride transit will have dedicated lanes to get to and from Grove Station and the neighborhood’s business district.
  3. Traffic Circle: One of the most contentious aspects of the plan is the proposed traffic circle at 27th, Tigertail, and Day Ave. The county is proposing an irregularly shaped traffic circle for this intersection, which would allow for the removal of traffic lights. Predictably, Day Avenue residents were concerned that traffic would increase significantly on their street. However, the county is planning on changing Day Avenue from one-way westbound to one-way eastbound, meaning one cannot enter Day Avenue from the 27th Avenue traffic circle. This will be ensured by a continuous portion of curb that will jut out just enough to make the turning angle onto Day Ave from the the circle impossible without going over the curb. I like this idea, because it will force cars to slow down considerably at this awkward and dangerous intersection. It will eliminate the need to wait for red lights to cross, as well as also making pedestrian crossings shorter.
  4. On-Street Parking: It looks like 27th Avenue will finally get on-street parking. The county plans on implementing 90 on-street spaces along this segment of the avenue, which would look similar to the set-up on Grand Avenue. The plan would have called for more on-street parking, but it wasn’t possible due to the ridiculously large number of driveways on the avenue. These on-street spaces are of the “cut-out” variety, meaning no current capacity will be taken by parking as the spaces are “carved” out of the sidewalk.
  5. Right-of-Way-Acquisition: Perhaps my favorite part of the plan was the proposed elimination of many parking swales (or parking lagoons) that line the avenue on both sides. These swales equate to such bad urban design for so many reasons, hence my appreciation for their removal. For one, they are just ugly to look at. A high quality pedestrian environment is certainly not define by any space flanked by automobiles. Also, these spots are small, so often times cars are parked on segments of the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to slalom the cars (sometimes requiring movement into the road) to traverse the swales. Also, this provides way too many free parking spaces along what should be a transit-oriented thoroughfare. As long as an abundance of free parking is available throughout the city, especially in close proximity to transit stations, induced automobile demand will remain high and transit ridership will not realize its ultimate potential. Moreover, these swales are just dangerous. They often require backing into the road, or other maneuvering within the swale that breaches the sidewalk. Lastly, these swales have always been located within the county’s right-of-way, and therefore people were parking for free within illegal zones. Therefore, the county is only retaking what is already theirs.
Those are the major portions of the project that were discussed at the meeting. Other factors such as landscaping and shade/sidewalk trees will certainly be implemented, but the specifics are still under consideration. So in conclusion, this project exceeded my expectations for the avenue. I’ll continued to post any updates on this project as I learn of them.

Tonight at 7:00 pm Miami-Dade County engineers will be presenting the most recent designs for the SW 27th Avenue improvement project to the Cocoanut Grove Village Council at City Hall. SW 27th Avenue should be one of Miami’s best streets, but it currently is in a sorry state. Come out and see whether or not the county has planned for a high quality urban avenue that will serve as a notable “Gateway to the Grove”, or if the avenue is doomed to an average future primarily catering to automobiles.

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  • Rick and Alesh lament over a dead proposed bill which would have required slow drivers in the left lane to move out of the way of faster drivers. We saw a similar measure reach Jeb Bush last year, where it was vetoed, citing that there was already an existing law to cover such measures. Once again, it all boils down on better driver education and more enforcement of existing statues by our understaffed Highway Patrolmen.
  • Balloons floated 400 ft over the Mercy Hospital site where three high-rises are slated to rise, to simulate the visual effect the buildings would have on the surroundings if erected. Nonetheless the simulation proved all of our worst fears about this project:
    “It’s worse than even my most horrible thoughts, which were pretty horrible,” Miami historian Arva Moore Parks said while watching the balloons hover over Vizcaya.

  • The Miami-Dade MPO voted unanimously in favor of building the Everglades Skyway Bridge through an eleven mile segment of the Everglades in order to properly restore water flow. This is a great project, aimed to finally correct decades of destruction caused by the Tamiami Trail, however, I must contest the MPO claim that the $300 million project would prove to be a “tourist attraction.”

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While Mayor Alvarez is talking about elevated HOT lanes on I-95 and the PTP adding bus routes in the State of the County address, I was thinking in another direction: it’s time to make our Metrorail stations more accessible and pedestrian-oriented. This is of primary concern for stations along US-1, which serves as a barrier to anyone trying to use Metrorail from the south side of Dixie Highway.

Take, for example, the Coconut Grove station. It should serve as one of the most important transit gateways in Miami-Dade County, but instead functions as an isolated entity. Countless times I have interacted with tourists at both ends of 27th avenue in the Grove, asking me where the Metrorail station is probably because a) it is effectively cut off from the neighborhood and b) there is little urban continuity between the station and Grand Avenue that is emblematic of a place where people walk and take transit. Check out the pictures below:

Besides having to wait at least two minutes for the light to change, the man crossing the street (in front of white truck turning left in this pic) had to dodge a car turning right-on-red from southbound 27th avenue, then step in front of this line of left turn traffic, and this is just to get to the median. Once he gets across the street, he is flanked by a very large gas station and chaotic stretch of merge-lane, followed by this.

The point is, better integration between Metrorail stations and adjacent streets and intersections is critical to the success of Metrorail, as well as realizing the pedestrian-oriented urban goals for Greater Miami. I guarantee there are people who would otherwise ride Metrorail but are turned off by either the prospect of crossing US-1 or the auto-centric environment of streets leading to the stations.

Count them. Not one, or two, but three independent studies call for increased density along the US-1 rapid transit corridor.

Recent Miami 21 studies, Miami-Dade Watershed Studies, and Coconut Grove planning studies all encourage increased density along US1 and near Metrorail stations.

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing better than some cold hard facts to combat the closed minded NIMBY thought process:

“Rush hour is already a nightmare; this will make things even worse,” said Kenneth Newman at a recent meeting between the developer and Grove Residents. “A lot of people are saying that it’s not going to work because rich people don’t ride the Metrorail…they have nice cars and they want to drive them,” says one Grove activist [Mr. Nimby] who wishes to remain nameless.

Wrong!

However, studies conducted by the transit department reveal a pattern that seems to have less to do with income level and more to do with urban design.

We needed a study to reach that conclusion after 20 years!? You could have looked at just about any other city in the world to see that we were doing things backwards.

Dadeland South and Dadeland North, the two southernmost Metrorail stations recorded the seconded highest weekly ridership averages of more than 6,500 boardings each. These two stations are not located in high poverty areas.

I wonder, perhaps, by how much the daily use of metrorail is going to increase once the units at Downtown Dadeland, Toscano, Colonnade, and Metropolis come fully onto the market. Let’s not forget about the upcoming Town Center project (lame name, I know) and final Datran building which are slated to include up to six additional office high-rises in and around the Dadeland area.

As Ryan showed below, the city is planning on investing millions of dollars to transform the area along 27th avenue from the metrorail station to the CBD of the grove. The plan includes better urban planning than what we’ve seen in most Miami neighborhoods and is a great way to integrate metrorail with the coconut grove district. Grove Residents are always citing parking/traffic concerns, but, if only they would get out of their cars then perhaps they’d begin to understand what a better place the grove could be…

All is silent over at CGG

Fortunately for Grove residents as well as other Miamians, 27th Avenue between US-1 and Bayshore Drive will soon be getting a long overdue makeover. This important stretch of avenue that links the neighborhood center with Coconut Grove Station has long been in shameful condition for pedestrians.

The plan to beautify 27th Avenue is to include expanded sidewalks, tree landscaping, and a mini traffic circle at the intersection of Tigertail, Day, and 27th. Predictably, some Grove NIMBYs are voicing concerns about parking. Apparently, they’re worried that the project right-of-way on both sides of the avenue will eliminate hideous lagoon parking in front of buildings in favor of widening sidewalks. God forbid anyone takes away “reserved” parking spots to add/widen sidewalks.

Below are some pictures showing what it looks like to take a walk from the southern part of the avenue to US-1:

The first leg of the walk does not even have a sidewalk, just a series of ugly, windswept sand and gravel parking lagoons for several apartment buildings.

The sidewalk first appears awkwardly (I’m not sure that word does justice here) about 20-25 yards from the street behind another parking lagoon. If this doesn’t symbolize walking as an afterthought in this community I don’t know what does.
More discontinuity that ruins the street. The sidewalk reappears in the middle of this parking lagoon flanked by what else, cars.
Another awkward stretch of sidewalk flanked by a gas station and huge swath of asphalt, which serves one main function: allows cars an excessively wide turning radius from Bird Rd.
This enormous chunk of asphalt adjacent to EZ Kwik is such an eyesore it makes me sick to look at. The city recently put in a speed bump on the corner of Bird just keep cars from using this space to evade traffic at the light. Talk about putting a band-aid on a stab wound.
Just past EZ Kwik, the sidewalk suddenly disappears again, forcing pedestrians to walk across a sand and gravel wasteland.
After getting back on the sidewalk again, one comes to this mini office park that warns pedestrians to watch for cars. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
More discontinuity. After being steered into a jungle-like setting, the sidewalk is again fragmented by a parking strip – far from the street by the way.
After reappearing, the walk finally terminates at US-1. The trash isn’t always there, but a greater pedestrian presence would require sidewalk cleaning to be more consistent.

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The County’s zoning and planning department must not have too much urban planning experience. The board blatantly does not understand the transit oriented development concept and instead chose to bow down to the heeds of the Coconut Grove NIMBY force. In case you aren’t aware, the CCG NIMBY Coalition is against density, height, and growth, but typically still wonders why the Coconut Grove Central shopping/business district is nearly vacant and not bustling with activity. (Note: they are also against expanding the UDB for further sprawl, but refuse to allow such development that would prevent it from happening in the first place.) In an effort to prevent further traffic, the NIMBY Coalition of the Grove sought to severely scale down the density of a proposed transit oriented development at the Grove metrorail station, opting instead for shorter buildings with more parking spaces. So let’s get this straight, in order to combat further traffic issues they are fighting to bring more parking to a new development that will be adjacent to a transit station? Sheer stupidity. The US-1 corridor is primed for denser development with fewer parking spaces to force use of alternative means of transportation throughout our neighborhoods including walking. Just in case you were wondering here is the definition of a transit oriented development:

Transit Oriented Development is the exciting new fast growing trend in creating vibrant, livable communities. Also known as Transit Oriented Design, or TOD, it is the creation of compact, walkable communities centered around high quality train systems. This makes it possible to live a higher quality life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival.

Hence my initial remarks on the zoning department’s actual planning experience. Below is a copy of the story from the Miami Today:

HEIGHT FIGHT: A developer’s plan to build a 250-foot, 25-story residential and commercial tower on 5 acres next to the Coconut Grove MetroRail station at US 1 and Southwest 27th Avenue is being scaled down by the county’s planning and zoning department. County officials were expected to detail their proposal to limit Coconut Grove Station Development’s tower to 19 stories and 200 feet at the Rapid Transit Developmental Impact Committee Wednesday (11/24). The county also wants to reduce density and increase parking for the project, which has triggered seven years of debate.

At least this comment is right on the money. Too bad reason goes in one ear and out the other over there:

Anonymous said…

Fifteen story buildings are way too short for a parcel next to a transit stop. You’re not using the land efficiently. The mixed-use towers sounds like a much better plan. Having the retail conveniences so close to the station will be excellent for ridership, not to mention curbing urban sprawl and building responsibly. Dense urban infill is the way to go.

January 23, 2007 9:38 PM


Earlier today, Adam wrote:

I’d really like to see some aerial views with the proposed buildings in relation to the existing hospital and neighborhood. My feeling from riding my bike through that neighborhood is that it is pretty institutional-feeling already. It’s hard for me to see the bid difference between 15-20-and-35 story buildings. Anything over 5 or 6 stories is on a whole separate scale. Other than traffic/transit concerns, the skyrises might not be too out of place next the giant hospital.

Using Google Earth, I obtained an aerial view of the so-called peninsula where the buildings would rise. The article does a poor job differentiating that the entire Mercy Hospital complex is located on what could technically be considered a peninsula rather than the actual location of the buildings themselves. I believe that the three buildings would rise where the three blue dots are located, on the Southwestern part of the Mercy property. They would in fact be sandwiched between the central Mercy Hospital complex and the buildings on Grove Isle (Circled in red.) I highlighted in green the principal route that would be impacted by the traffic created by these buildings (South Bayshore Drive) and placed a yellow dot on the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens complex which abuts the Mercy Hospital land. The buildings would be located approximately 1.08 miles from the southernmost building along Brickell Avenue and 1.25 miles from the first tower in Coconut Grove, the SBS tower.

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Mercy Hospital is pressing ahead with plans to sell a few acres of land to the Related Group in order to finance hospital improvements. The Grove residents are already mounting an opposition group (Gasp!) to fight the three 26-36 story residential buildings which would rise on site. The three towers will hold approximately 300 high end condominiums which as the developer points out, would likely be purchased by wealthy out-of-towners as second and third homes. As the Herald points out, the project has already won the preliminary support of the two nearest homeowners associations, begging the question if the developer successfully paid for the support of the groups. This leads me to an added question in my never ending attempt to understand how public input should be valued when considering neighborhood developments: How much should proximity to development weigh when analyzing the concerns of area residents?

I haven’t seen the plans or traffic impact analysis of the Mercy project yet and have therefore not taken a stance on the development. In any case, I do see them as out of place with the given surroundings but not entirely out of context when you consider the existing 3 tower Grove Isle project which would be immediately South of this development...

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  • Today at 9 am, Miami-Dade Transit will be determining just how large a proposed Transit Oriented Development may be at the Coconut Grove Metrorail station. Grove Nimby’s have promised to be out in force fool heartedly opposing any significant density in from the proposed project. A decrease in density would be a severe detriment to all Miami-Dade residents not just the people who would benefit from the transit development. The site needs to be built to maximize its potential and provide the greatest benefit to the greatest amount of people within in the county rather than the special needs of a vocal minority group. The local community cites traffic issues as their main concern along the intersection; however, they fail to realize that any development which occurs on the site will likely adversely impact traffic. The development would not only be able to maximize the use of our only urban transit system, but would begin to add some much needed density along two major corridors; US-1 and 27th Ave.
  • Kendall residents are at a virtual standstill in traffic deciding what transit options to pursue for their neighborhood. As development continues westward (like the bright idea of building homes west of Tamiami Airport) area traffic will only continue to get worse. Fearing that trains will only “exacerbate” the commutes of many drivers, the CSX rail corridor isn’t seen as a great alternative by many (who likely live along the corridor and fear a decrease in their home’s value.) Here’s a bright idea: Ride the train along the CSX corridor and you too won’t be exacerbated. Residents are also pulling for a proposed rail link down Kendall drive; however, they insist that the train must not remove any lanes of traffic. So, going by the mentality of the majority of Miami residents, they too would like transit in their areas so that other people may use it, while freeing up space for their own vehicular commutes. Good Luck. A train down Kendall drive would be disastrous unless we quickly change the way we develop the major thoroughfare. An elevated train down the median would prove to be a gigantic failure, leaving would-be passengers with at least three hectic lanes of traffic to cross before traversing the parking lots of an assortment of strip shopping centers.
  • Traffic cameras are coming to a city residential community near you. That’s right; the commuter village of Pembroke Pines in Broward is going forward with plans to install a network of intersection cameras to catch red light runners. Need I remind them though, that entering an intersection on a yellow light is legal in the state of Florida and that the driver may complete his maneuver even if the light has turned red so long as it did so after the vehicle completely passed the white markings of the intersection. As long as they cite people for the right thing and don’t abuse the camera policy, I’m all for the eyes in the sky.
  • Miami-Dade Commissioners unanimously approved the final step in the Island Gardens debacle. Flagstone development has now been given the green light by the county to begin dredging along Watson island to support the city’s first mega yacht marina.
  • Keep an eye on Transit Miami for all the latest news on Transit/Development issues in the Greater Miami area. I will be changing up the site soon as I switch to a better blogging software. As always, If you have any stories, news, or information you would like to share, please e-mail TransitMiami at MoveMiami@gmail.com…

Careful Miami PD, I’m certain that the sleepy village of Coconut Grove would not appreciate loud protests pedestrians passing through their quiet, single-family home, suburban neighborhood… The Sun-Sentinel reported that an estimated 800 people participated in the march. I’ll add that traffic must of been a nightmare today in the grove considering the few hundred extra people who visited city hall…(Image from the Sun-Sentinel)…

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Somehow, I told you so, just doesn’t quite cut it. Here is a comment I posted a few hours ago, in response to a anti-growth Coconut Grove comment made earlier:

Transit won’t solve these issues on its own; it must be coupled with intelligent growth, which definitely isn’t being supplied adequately by the Grove Activists or Developers…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way shape or form excited that the Home Depot is moving forward with its plans in Coconut Grove. It just goes to show how we end up with terrible planning in this city when the two extremes never settle upon a happy medium. Grove Activists fought the Home Depot for 2 years, while the popular home store bent over backwards in making its store fit in with the “village vision” of the Grove Residents. The store, designed by Local architect and Grove Resident (I believe) Max Strang, will probably never come to fruition, with its designated truck delivery zones, multi-level parking and stores, new Milam’s Market and Pharmacy, and Bahamian influenced design. In the end, we still get nothing but a terrible catastrophic strip shopping center in the heart of a vibrant community. All because one side never decided that in order to settle, they would have to make some concessions. Now, instead, we all pay the price of so truly terrible traffic, parking, and just deplorable planning…The Grove says no? Try again…

The Grove First website…

More info on what was GroveGate, click here…

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I’ve shared my discontent on the people’s transportation plan (PTP) on more than one occasion on this site. I’ve also spoken of the nimby-like behavior of the grove residents who oppose any project which crosses their path but at the same time complain about a dearth of parking in their area. Today, I’ve decided to combine the two issues somewhat and present a set of alternative plans that I believe would benefit our community and would satisfy the delicate aesthetic needs of coconut grove residents. Below are three quick renderings I created (please pardon the terrible quality) of the region with possible public transit routes superimposed.


  1. This plan is the simplest, least intrusive, and cheapest alternative. The plan calls for the dismantling of the Omni loop of the people mover system in downtown once the Miami Streetcar becomes operational. I’m figuring that the omni loop will be rendered useless once the streetcar is completed seeing that they essentially cover the same part of the city. The salvageable tracks, vehicles, and station components can then be used to create a new Coconut Grove Loop People Mover system. The CG loop would be approximately 1.65 miles long, just slightly longer than the current 1.45 mile Omni Loop. The loop would be able to transport people quickly and effectively from the Coconut Grove Metrorail station along US-1 to the more pedestrian friendly areas of the grove, office buildings along South Bayshore Dr., City Hall, and the vast network of bay front parks. This option would be good for bringing people into the Grove from other parts of the county, but would not prove as useful for the majority of Grove residents. The plan also concentrates the public transit on the densest part of the grove and along the bustling 27th Ave. corridor.
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, City Hall at Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair


  1. This plan focuses more on a public transit system which would service the Coconut Grove community as the southern terminus for a North-South 27th Ave. Streetcar or LRT. The proposed system would be far more useful than the 9 mile northern extension which is currently planned and underway for Metrorail because it invites better urban growth to occur at the street level along the avenue. The Northern terminus for this transit line would be at Joe Robbie Stadium (Dolphin Stadium) and would travel through Opa Locka, West Little River, Brownsville, Little Havana, and Coconut Grove neighborhoods. It would provide two links to the Metrorail (CG and Brownsville.) This plan would allow for greater development to occur along the 27th Avenue corridor bringing some much needed density to the area. The much debated and contested Carlos Rua project at the Coconut Grove Metrorail station would be one such example of the type of development we would want to encourage (with less parking.) Transit Oriented Developments such as the Rua project are essential to make our transportation networks succeed. Situated along the primary N-S route in the city (US-1), a major avenue (27th Ave.), and our only form of public transportation, this project is hardly out of context with its surroundings and what we can expect of the region in years to come (Perhaps the height is excessive, but the density is of critical importance.)
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, Dinner Key, Dolphin Stadium, MDC Inter-American Campus, Opa Locka, Coral Way Corridor

  1. The last plan focuses on implementing a streetcar or LRT which would travel through Coconut Grove from the Brickell Metrorail station. This plan focuses its attention on the needs of the Coconut Grove area, bringing pedestrian traffic and growth to the areas which can support it best. It would also best serve the needs of the area residents in getting to their local town center which is already facing major parking issues. Traveling through South Bayshore Drive, the streetcar would service areas we designate as pedestrian friendly. It services the dense housing units in the area, waterfront offices, shopping areas, Hospital, and parks. A project like this would greatly benefit from further dense (not necessarily tall) growth to occur along the corridor (perhaps the Related Group’s Mercy project wouldn’t seem like such a far fetched idea.) The streetcar would service both east and west grove and create a center for the community (at Mayfair) which is easily accessible to most via the public transportation. Heading westward, the line could travel through the Village of Merrick Park before terminating at the Douglas Road Metrorail station.

Key Stops: Mercy Hospital, Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair, West Grove, Brickell Metrorail Station, Southern Brickell, Village at Merrick Park, Douglas Road Metrorail Station

I created this above analysis to show that there are a multitude of public transportation concepts which could be implemented in the Coconut Grove area which would not only serve the needs of the area residents but would benefit the entire community. Grove residents should open their minds to development which will enhance their community (I’m not saying to fully accept the Related Group, Home Depot, or Carlos Rua projects) but they need to take a different approach when considering the type of development that will occur in their area. Bringing density to their town center and major thoroughfares like 27th Ave, Grand Ave, and South Bayshore Dr. will keep the charm of the grove intact while also providing a support nucleus which will keep places like Mayfair up and running. This will help reduce the demand for area parking once we recreate a community which is even more navigable for pedestrians rather than vehicles.

As for the PTP, I can only say that we are headed in the wrong direction. Metrorail is an antiquated and extremely costly form of public transportation. We need to embrace a cheaper form of public transit in order to be able to compete with the handful of other US cities which are also vying for federal funding. At the same time, we need to create a system which will satisfy the needs of as many citizens as possible and provide the greatest amount of uses for the community and area re-development.

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