Currently viewing the tag: "Miami 21"
The above photograph came from the airplane mounted camera of local photographer James Good. Although certainly not one of his most creative pictures, this picture gives us an excellent aerial view of the realignment of Biscayne Boulevard along Bicentennial (Museum) Park. The beautiful design in the median with new wider sidewalks on either side, will allow the new residents of the condos emerging behind to easily access the Carnival Center and all destinations along the Boulevard easily by foot. The initial conceptual drawings included images of sidewalk cafes, tree canopies, and streetcars running along the new more pedestrian friendly corridor. Of particular interest is the small building in the bottom center; a water treatment pumping facility which emits a foul odor and isn’t planned to move elsewhere anytime soon…

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The streetcar articles have stirred up some great discussion in the comments section, both in favor of and against the proposed route. I would like to address one of the main reasons cited against the streetcar; the proposed and possibly upcoming LRT along the FEC corridor.

The LRT along the FEC corridor appears to be the favored alternative transportation choice of those in favor of and against the Miami streetcar. Although I believe that the FEC corridor would prove to be the most useful alternative due to its dedicated ROW through the largest municipalities, I don’t believe it should be the driving force behind the opposition to the streetcar. We shouldn’t discredit the current effort to provide reasonable alternative means of public transportation within the city limits; after all, this is all the city can do to improve its’ own infrastructure. This is a city of Miami infrastructure solution, funded by city dollars, so we can erase the notions of spending the money instead to run rail lines every which way out of the city. Likewise, the FEC corridor situation is basically out of the hands of city planners and is still currently little more than a pipe dream study, leaving at least several years before we can even begin to witness any sort of real planning or development occur. In the meantime, the streetcar would begin to alleviate the traffic problems the current and future development is going to create and would further bolster the reach of an FEC corridor LRT, eventually giving riders more destinations in easy reach of efficient transit. Many streetcar opponents claim the streetcar simply isn’t a reasonable alternative and cite the FEC as a more realistic option, however, I don’t know if this is because it wouldn’t be funded solely by the city or if it wouldn’t impede on their daily vehicular commute…

Miami 21 is behind schedule which isn’t much of a surprise to most of us here; however, it is actually understandable for a concept of this magnitude to have all sorts of delays considering how many different aspects of zoning laws will be affected…

”My concern is that the city may be giving us the run-around,” said newly elected City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who attended Thursday’s presentation at City Hall.

”I don’t see the public having opportunity for input but when that occurs, I don’t see their input reflected in changes to the code,” he said.

I hate to break the news, but, you’re technically part of that “city run-around” now. I wasn’t aware that Miami’s residents were certified professional engineers, architects, and urban planners, all teeming full of great ideas on how to suddenly fix Miami’s decrepit urban infrastructure. Just because a suggestion is made by a constituent, why should a professional consulting group automatically include their ideas? Let’s let the hired consultants do their job, otherwise, we could have left the urban planning to the average Joe resident and saved the city millions…Oh snap, I forgot, we’ve already tried that…

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Coral Way has the greatest potential in Miami to become one of the best pedestrian oriented and truly urban streetscapes in the area. With the beautiful shade provided by the banyan trees and abundant on-street parking, the thoroughfare is just pleading for the appropriate development to create a new vibrant neighborhood. Coral Way was once considered the major link between the downtown areas of Miami and Coral Gables. Up until a hurricane struck in November of 1935 (Technology has changed considerably since, Marc), a streetcar (operated by Coral Gables Municipal Transit) used to service the route through the street median.

Today, the area is begging for the type of development that would turn the street into one of the best pedestrian neighborhoods, similar to the vibrant activity on La Gran Via (Madrid), Champs Elysees (Paris), or even Newbury St. (Boston). Miami is notably missing a major pedestrian center, a real urban avenue if you will, where people can actually live, work, and take care of their daily needs within a reasonable walking distance and all under the cover of the shade provided by banyan trees and some properly designed porticos.

There has been a hint of new activity along Coral Way in the recent construction boom. Most notably: Blue on Coral Way, Gables Marquis, and The Emerald Plaza. A recent drive along the street though, led me to a condominium which was constructed recently. This particular building happened to have the most hideous tenant parking entrance occupying the majority of the usable ground level area of the building. The city needs to desperately curtail such terrible development and needs to steer growth to include ground level retail, covered porticos, on street parking, and easy access to public transit. We need to integrate the existing ground level tenants (supermarkets, pharmacies, medical offices, restaurants) with the new construction in order to improve the activity which will soon follow. The area parks also need to be expanded and restored to seamlessly integrate with the activity along the boulevard. Otherwise, the area restaurants are already teeming with nightime activity along with the cultural events and varied religious centers.

The city should also seriously evaluate a streetcar option (similar to the Miami Streetcar Initiative) through this neighborhood, in order to once again link the two city centers and provide a much needed alternative to an area with incredible potential. Image of my proposed route:

Images from: eniomart, Snarky Dork, and Prezzi’s Flickr…

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