Currently viewing the tag: "Brickell"

Friend of Transit Miami, Olga Ramos, lives on Brickell Avenue and wanted to share her daily commuting to work experience with our readers.

Every day I make a choice; a small choice, but an important one none the less. I choose to walk to work. Even though my company pays for a much coveted covered parking spot in one of the most prestigious pieces of real estate in Miami, I leave the transponder in my car parked in our apartment building and I choose to use what nature gave me to get to the office. My primary motivation comes from my belief that it is important to do the little things in order to reduce my carbon footprint, and because frankly that quarter of mile of movement allows me to transform myself into the focused business women my colleagues know.  I also walk to my gym (which is exactly 1.04 miles from our home thank you map quest) even though at that gym I receive free valet parking. I consider it my cardio warm up.

I think that the biggest change in most Americans lives over the last 40 years is that we have stopped walking. The little trips to the library, post office or corner store has been replaced with jumping into gas guzzling SUV’s to go just half a mile. In most cities the reason is because suburban sprawl and poor urban planning have made these locations far from were people live. But in Miami most people don’t walk because it is dangerous. During my walk every day, I play a sort of human frogger that affords me at minimum 3 near death experiences a week. As an adventuresome girl I could deal with that, however; what really irks me is how rude people are. I have been crossing Coral Way and Brickell, the crosswalk will be clearly signaling my right of way and drivers will still regularly yell obscenities in whatever native language is theirs or just use hand signals to communicate their disgust. I must admit that the road rage I encounter does make me dream of the day that I walk to work with rotten eggs in my hands so that when I encounter these drivers that have turned to the dark side I can leave a memorable impression.

But what I really want are two simple things. I want for all of the crosswalk lights to work (something I haven’t experienced since July) and I would like for some signage to go up on the traffic signals that states “Yield to Pedestrians”. The crosswalks lights that aren’t functioning are located on the NE side of Brickell Ave and 14th Street as well as the crosswalk lights on NE side of Brickell and 13ts Street. These are small things, but they would make a world of difference to this urbanite and her fellow pedestrian walkers.

And I promise that if I get what I want, that I won’t consider the rotten egg retaliation again.”

Although I don’t recommend rotten egg retaliation, I understand her frustration. Drivers need to respect the rights of pedestrians and the city also needs to do a much better job of enforcing their rights. The City of Miami must educate the driving public by putting up more “Yield to Pedestrian” signs throughout Brickell and Downtown. There is enough density and pedestrian activity to consider a “No Turn on Red” ordinance for Brickell and Downtown. Such an ordinance would make walking safer and would slow down traffic in these heavily populated areas.

no-right-on-red-outl

P9190100

P9190103

Tagged with:
 

According to this South Florida Business Journal article, developer Tibor Hollo will lease 2 acres of prime development land to the City of Miami. Located at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive, Hollo will lease the undeveloped bayside lot for the whopping sum of $1 a year. In return, the City will landscape the lot and provide benches for what will be called Hollo Park.

While usable green space is badly needed in Brickell, and Hollo should be commended for what Commissioner Sarnoff calls “thinking outside the box,” I sure hope the developer knows what they are getting themselves into. That is to say, if this park is even remotely successful and enjoyed by Brickell’s growing number of residents, it could become a political battle once the development market returns and Hollo moves to make Hollo Park “Hollo on The Bay,” or “Hollo Haven.”
View Larger Map

Thanks to Kathryn Moore for the tip.

Tagged with:
 

By all accounts Bike Miami was a total success! Some estimates claim nearly 2,000 bicyclists, joggers, walkers, dogs, dancers and skaters in attendance. I have a feeling it may have been a little more, but regardless, downtown was full of smiling people enjoying their city in a new way.

The two hot spots were undoubtedly Mary Brickell Village and Bayfront park, the two bookends of the route where people flocked in droves. In fact, South Miami Avenue was much more like an urban plaza than a street. Did you notice how the cafe seating and active retail edges allowed people to watch the active participants promenade through what became more a stage than a street? It was a beautiful event and instructive. Indeed, I have never seen such an exercise of urbanism within downtown Miami. The event clearly demonstrates the wonderful potential of downtown Miami and I think the event’s organizers and participants now understand what livable streets can mean for the health of downtown Miami.

At 11am Miami Mayor Manny Diaz gave a short speech about making Miami a more bicycle friendly city. His commitment to such a goal has been more than evident in the past 9 months and we should all thank him, his staff (especially Kathryn Moore!) the Bicycle Action Committee and all the other city departments who made Bike Miami so successful. As Mayor Diaz also pointed out, yesterday’s event would not have been possible without the volunteer effort of the city’s police force who were wonderful, if not a bit surprised at the masses of people using the city’s streets in such an innovative way. Thanks to all!

Please know that all those involved in organizing the event are now aiming to make Bike Miami occur on a regular basis, perhaps even monthly as the mayor mentioned to me yesterday. However, before doing so, we would like to hear from you. What did you like? Did you have any problems? Do you have any suggestions for a route change or possible extension? Share your feedback by visiting the Bike Miami homepage and filling out a quick survey.

We will do our best to make Bike Miami even better for you in the future. All we ask in return is that you contact your local representatives, the Mayor’s office and/or your local news outlets etc (Especially the Miami Herald who ignored the event in today’s coverage!). to share your support and positive feedback. This is a grassroots event. Be the roots.

Now for a few photos.

Mayor Manny Diaz speaks to hundreds of participants at the Bike Miami rally.

Mr. Clucky, an erstwhile bicycle activist looks on.

Families were some of the most active participants at Bike Miami.

Flagler Street was teaming with activity all day long.

South Miami Avenue at Mary Brickell Village.

Go Green Miami.

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!

The Miami circle is an attraction, a cultural focal point of our area’s heritage, and will ultimately become a destination for visitors and locals alike. It will provide a glimpse into real prehistoric culture without today’s seemingly artificial representation of Native American Culture. The National Park Service is looking for ideas for what to do with the Miami Circle site and here is what we suggest:
  1. The Miami Circle should be a protected exhibition connected with a local museum (historical Museum of Southern Florida or the new Museum of Science at Museum Park come to mind.)
  2. The exhibition should be located in a passive park with abundant benches, trees, lighting, some sort of protective canopy over the exhibition itself, and little else.
  3. The park should be easily accessible for pedestrians, i.e. no parking, this is downtown and plenty of alternatives exist and are readily available. Those seeking to drive will likely be able to find a spot in the adjacent Viceroy.

Our suggestion is a combination of the National Park services’ options 1 and 4, found here in the Planning, Environment and Comment section of the website. The full plans can be found in this PDF. We’re fond of the integration with the surroundings of Option 1 and the absence of surface parking, facilities, and extreme amounts of pavement. Option 4 presents visitors with a chance to see the remnants of the Miami circle in a protected way and creates a point for guided boat tours on the bay.

Once again, I can relate a scenario in Miami to an existing project in Vienna: The Roman Ruins outside of the Hofburg Imperial Palace. The preservation of the Roman Ruins allows visitors to glimpse back 2500 years to the founding Vindobona. The ruins are encircled by a wall which allows viewers to peer down at the remaining structure, located some 25 feet below street level.

I went to Rosa Mexicano the other day at Mary Brickell Village for dinner and was extremely disappointed to witness the state of the complex (very satisfied by the food, however.) This place is a disaster! The pictures below really don’t do it justice. I was more than appalled to see what should have been one of our premier pedestrian areas in such a state of disrepair. Besides the obvious vacancy, missing condominium tower, and abandoned Publix space, most of the western half of the complex has been ripped apart to fix some piping. The whole complex’s air conditioning was out of order and supplanted by temporary portable units.

In my post last week regarding the absurd comments on the parking situation in downtown, I somehow skimmed over the rest of the article (likely due to the nausea induced by the aforementioned quotes) and missed even more (I’m going to go ahead and make up my own word to really put this into context) Ridiculaiety… If bad planning and stupid ideas make you ill, you may want to stop reading now:

To expand downtown parking, authority officials are getting creative, exploring the idea of building a park-and-ride garage in Brickell as a joint venture on privately owned land, Mr. Noriega said.

Can’t say I didn’t warn you but let’s analyze, shall we? “…getting creative…” is an obvious disguise for being oblivious to standard urban planning principles, hence why the revolutionary idea has never been considered before; point blank its just plain stupid. Park-and-ride…In Brickell? To serve exactly who? The People who inched on US-1 alongside Metrorail? It certainly can’t serve Brickell residents, no; they have easy access to Metromover already. And forget the Roads and Grove Nimbys; their against everything. Are we building it for the folks who drive from Pinecrest, a town which by the way recently rejected their own Park-and-Ride service which would have more effectively served residents with service to the Busway and Metrorail. No. It’s a “joint venture,” or in laymen’s terms an opportunity for yet another developer to hoodwink the public and for another corrupt official to receive a gratuitous kickback. Nobody, in any right mind, would jump at the opportunity to build a parking lot/garage in Brickell which would serve primarily as a Park-and-Ride lot- Its just not happening…

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.

Tagged with:
 

The Herald has gotten involved…check it out.

Tagged with:
 
Although I have been generally pleased with Miami’s growth patterns of the last few years, I have always been concerned about the outcome. I am afraid Miami is building a completely novel urban environment, perhaps unlike anywhere else on Earth. What do I mean by this? Partially due to the lack of comprehensive transit and the region’s obsessive car culture, nearly all of the City’s new development is being designed for people to drive to, park in a garage, and walk in only the very immediate area to arrive at their destination.

This is exacerbated by the excessive minimum parking standards set by the City Code. Miami’s urban central business district has always had way too much parking for an urban core, but with the addition of all these new buildings as many as 100,000 more parking spaces are being added to the area. What a disgusting waste of valuable urban space. This is what I mean by Miami creating a novel urban environment – I can’t think of another major city in the history of the world that has simultaneously added so much core density and so much more parking. Or, put another way, I can’t think of another major city in the history of the world that has added so much more dense urban infrastructure without substantially curbing driving demand.

Perhaps even more worrisome is that people won’t even do the little bit of walking I mentioned above. They often may not need to. If you’re living in a high-rise in Brickell, you surely have a large parking garage pedestal. Say you want to go shopping at a downtown building with ground floor retail. It’s highly likely, especially if the building is new, that it will also have plenty of on-site parking. All you would have to do, in this case, is take the elevator to the parking garage (or valet), pull out and drive to the on-site garage at your destination. In many instances, there may even be direct access from the parking garage to the ground-floor retail. The same is true if you’re planning on visiting a friend in another building; just drive from one garage to another without ever setting food outdoors.

To see if this is happening, I went downtown and to Brickell to do some qualitative observation to gauge the ratio of pedestrian-to-automobile traffic coming and going from various buildings. I started at the One Miami building, where one of my friends resides. First of all, it doesn’t help that the building is almost entirely designed to interact with automobiles, not the pedestrian realm (seen here on the left), as Gabe pointed out in a recent post. Unfortunately, just as I suspected, one car after another came and went from the building’s massive parking garage. As for pedestrians? I was one of only a handful during about a 45 minute stretch between 1:45 pm and 2:30 pm.

Next, I took the Metromover down to Brickell so I could survey another building where a friend resides – the Club at Brickell Bay. It should be noted that this building felt rather hostile to pedestrians as well, due to the half-circle valet area and columns out front at the building’s only pedestrian entrance. At first, however, it seemed like there was more pedestrian interaction in this area. However, upon closer observation, almost all of the pedestrian activity was from people coming from and going to their cars which were parallel parked within about a two block radius of the Club. Meanwhile, car after car rode down Brickell Bay Drive looking for on-street parking, or entering and exiting the garage from the side of the building. Same went for the building next door. An occasional pedestrian or two could be seen coming from a distance every now and then, but they were far outnumbered by those driving.

Some of my friends have told me to relax, that things will improve a lot once the area matures and more retail is added nearby. This may be true to some degree, especially downtown, where pretty much everything is closed by 8:00 pm. However, I don’t think we can rely upon the major proposed retail projects to help a whole lot. For example, City Square is planning on providing a whopping 4,052 parking spaces! Same goes for Bayview Market (2,360). Same goes for Midtown Miami (2,900), regardless of the proposed Streetcar that would serve it.

Furthermore, we can’t blame a lack of transit for people deciding to drive everywhere in downtown and Brickell. These two locales are served by multiple modes of transit including taxi cabs, pitting them among the best transit-served areas in the southeastern United States. Everything, from groceries, retail, medical care, schools, jobs, banks, parks, restaurants, cafes, and nightlife are all accessible from short Metrorail, Metromover, or taxi rides (I’m not even going to include Metrobus in this piece).

In fairness, I know there are many people who have moved downtown or to Brickell so they could leave the car at home (or behind). We’ve even had commenters on TransitMiami mention their delight for being able to walk or take transit to most destinations. However, I believe these people are still very much in the minority.

Miami 21 aims to solve these problems. Due to fervent public outcry, parking will still be over mandated, but not quite as much as under current ordinances. Moreover, Miami 21 will force new buildings to have habitable space on nearly all building facades, aiming to significantly improve interaction with the pedestrian realm. The Streetcar proposal aims to improve north-south transit between downtown and midtown. A Bicycle Master Plan is still desperately needed. I sincerely hope that these actions improve the current situation in our urban core.

I don’t want Miami to become infamous for its dubious distinction as a park n’ walk city.

top photo courtesy of James Good’s flickr account

Tagged with:
 


This billboard was recently erected at the corner of SW 27th Avenue and US-1 by the northern boundary of the Grove. What a bunch of garbage - it appears this sign is implying that true urban living (e.g. Brickell, Downtown) is inherently stressful, while the less urban nature of the Grove is some desirable suburban oasis that is stress-free. What is even dumber is that the Grove and Brickell/Downtown are all neighborhoods within the City of Miami; therefore, this billboard illustrates that Miami actually has it’s own neighborhoods competing against each other as if they were separate cities.

Perhaps this is emblematic of the hyper-fragmentation within Miami-Dade County, or perhaps it is a latent message via the Grove’s NIMBY force that longs for a neighborhood that more closely resembles a “sleepy little village” then a unique urban environment characterized by lush, tropical foliage, a rich history, and strategic location. Regardless, it’s definitely not the kind of message the City should embrace, especially given the current efforts to make Miami physically and operationally a denser, more traditional urban environment. Nor should it embrace it because one of it’s most popular neighborhoods is taking a shot at the City’s urban core, including its CBD and Financial District. Ironically, it is actually the denser environment that leads to less stress. This makes walking and taking transit much more feasible and friendly, which almost always means a less stressful environment than auto-dependent ones which happen to characterize much of the Grove.

Tagged with:
 
I started my trip as usual at the UM metrorail station. The station severely needs a pedestrian overpass to connect it with the already disjointed surroundings. Notice, any attempt to connect the station with its eastern surroundings will at best connect pedestrians with any of the many available parking lots of the strip shopping centers.

I arrived at the Brickell station in full view of some “urban design malpractice,” to quote Ryan’s previous post on the subject. The following pictures were taken either from the Metrorail platform or from the train just as we entered the station (I’m disappointed that Beethoven’s 5th No longer plays when the train arrives, what gives?) The first picture depicts the new Infinity at Brickell high-rise with its’ hideous massive blank wall left exposed facing the west. The next two pictures are of buildings adjacent to the metrorail platform. Notice the wide entrance to the parking garage in the first building (Brickell Station Villas designed by Alberto Otero) on the west side fronting the station. The third picture below depicts another new condo with an absurdly huge parking structure below making up more than half the size of the building. These designs are sad and pathetic considering their proximity to mass transit. A parking garage entrance shouldn’t front the station and their designs should be required to consider pedestrian activity. I don’t blame the architects or developers; this is clearly a regulatory issue and the result of a commission who approves nearly anything which comes before them…

The last time I passed by the Brickell metrorail station (nearly 8 months ago) the brickell metromover escalator was out of service. I was dismayed to see that this was obviously still the case. Great job Bradley!

I got off the mover by Mary Brickell Village, the disastrously planned retail center in the heart of Brickell which has been under construction for a few years now. I was dismayed however to see that this station’s escalator was too out of commission (that’s 0/2 for all of you keeping score.) Great job Bradley!

Pictured below is the site of the Brickell Financial Centre, which as I mentioned earlier was slated to officially break ground on Thursday. Despite the continued demolition of the mid-rise previously located on the site, an area with project plans and descriptions was set up on the former back parking lot.

When I arrived at the 5th street station, just beside the new Brickell on the River Condominium, I looked down to find two separate paths leading from the Station to the river-walk. One was apparently the “commoners” path while the one on the right side of the wrought iron fence was for the residents of the condo. Fenced in or gated condominiums severely detract from their urban surroundings and should not be allowed to rise in such central and prominent locations of our city. These tend to isolate residents from the surroundings, complicating building access for pedestrians and disconnecting them from the closely located transit and public river-walk…

Looking back inland, the beautiful rear end of 500 Brickell kept staring at me, asking why the developer had left such a plain wall facing the metromover station. A short walk around the building later demonstrated that the front end had been properly designed, with balconies and plenty of glass, it’s a shame the back side couldn’t have been granted the same architectural considerations.

Although the whole downtown has been morphed into a full scale construction zone, I was surprised to see adequate consideration taken for the area sidewalks. Although I appeared to be the only person walking around, the construction worker turned crossing guard was kind enough to halt passing street activity for me to cross.

From the Brickell Avenue Bridge looking west I saw further signs of a very disjointed river-walk taking shape. The newly completed Brickell on the River was sectioned off from the neighboring Riverview Complex which is apparently the docking point for some Miami PD boats (this is probably done as a local measure of (in)security…)

The CBD as we knew it has finally witnessed the removal of the last surface parking eyesores as the Metropolitan Miami Complex rises. In the foreground we see piles being driven for the most important tower rising in the CBD since the Bank of America Tower was completed in the 80’s, MET 2. MET 2 is our newest office skyscraper which will feature 600,000 square feet of office space in one tower and Miami’s first Marriot Marquis in an adjacent tower. Most importantly, MET 2 will dwarf the abysmally lackluster height and design of MET 1 (Center, under construction,) with a glass facade and parabolic glass shape similar to the Esprito Santo Bank tower on Brickell.

Pedestrian activity already disturbed along the river area due to the EPIC and MET construction is permanently obstructed by the pilings of the metromover.

One Miami can essentially be credited with being the project which started the latest vertical boom in Downtown Miami. Constructed by the Related Group of Florida and designed by local architect Arquitectonica (like most Related Group projects,) these twin 45 and 44 story towers were the first to test the downtown residential condo market in several decades. The real estate revival launched by this development since has been phenomenal. I was highly unimpressed by the entrance to the towers which obviously caters to vehicular movements while pedestrian access is relegated to a thin walkway alongside the tower entrance.

One Miami’s contribution to the public river-walk however, was highly impressive and one of the high points of my walk. The area was beautiful, providing ample seating along the tranquil north shore of the Miami River and overlooking Brickell Key. The One Miami river-walk contained various works of art, including a sculpture by Jose Bedia among others. Big Brother was noticeably present as was adequate lighting and access for One Miami residents. Hopefully Epic and the other buildings rising along the river will continue the precedent already established by One Miami.

Part one of my tour concludes with a view of the unfinished One Miami River-Walk leading into Bayfront Park. The dock on the right is the proposed station for any future ferry commuter boats traveling between the CBD and Aventura/South Dade. Part two of my walk will continue through Bayfront Park as I tackle the changes currently transforming what should be our most prominent urban park…


And the unprecedented growth continues…

Tagged with:
 

I took some time out of my weekend to give a Miami Native a first-time tour of Vizcaya. I often find that many Miamians have never ventured into Vizcaya, so I always volunteer to visit Miami’s most beautiful estate and give them my own personal tour. I was also interested in capturing some photographs of the view from the estate which soon may forever be altered if the City of Miami approves 300 Grove Bay residences, a project by The Related group, slated for a section of land just south of Mercy Hospital.
Personally, I’d have to agree that the buildings are out of context with their surroundings, but then again so are Mercy Hospital and the Grove Isle trio of towers. The traffic impact has likely been grossly miscalculated seeing that this is the equivalent of placing a skyscraper in suburbia, the only reasonable link between it and the surroundings will be vehicular. As for the visual impact, I think Vizcaya’s views will be pretty much unhampered. Mercy Hospital is currently visible from the grounds, as are the buildings on Brickell and Key Biscayne and yet they don’t seem to adversely impact the tranquility of the Gardens.
Since the last time I wrote on the Mercy Project, I still haven’t been able to come up with an valid enough stance either in favor or against the project. I lean against the project mainly because it continues the decentralization of skyscrapers that is so prevalent in Miami. Ultimately, I believe the towers would be better suited elsewhere, either north in the Brickell area or south in the Coconut Grove Business district, rather than in the Mercy site where they will forever be relegated as suburban towers only accessible by vehicles and disjointed from the bustling hubs to the north and south…

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tagged with:
 
This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.