The reindeer games continue between the County and City and as usual the taxpayer ends up getting cheated and we are all left with a really dangerous street, which apparently the County and City both find acceptable.
Here’s an email I received from Transit Miami friend Wendy Stephan.
I’m writing to you about a problem here in Buena Vista East/Design District. I’ve attached a letter I sent below about the problem. After residents sent about 100 letters, the City of Miami (particularly the Mayor’s office) was responsive, but our understanding is that the County is in charge of the project. The latest twist is that the County says they handed the project off to the City at some point (?!). It seems the project just stalled out halfway done. I am sure you’ve noticed how dangerous NE 2nd Avenue is these days – potholes, angled light poles, and no street markings!! This seems to be a good issue for your blog. Thanks.
Here’s the email sent to city, county neighbors, etc., on June 10:
Dear Commissioner Edmonson,
I would like to add my voice to the chorus of District 3 residents and business owners concerned about the unsafe situation and lack of progress on the street improvements on NE 2nd Avenue in the Buena Vista/Design District area. Because the street improvement project seems to be stalled with work halfway done — old lighting removed, street surface damaged, striping not visible — the situation that currently exists is very dangerous, and one young woman was killed crossing the street on a dark night in March.
This area has recently seen the wonderful development of several businesses, some owned by residents, that cater to our broader community. These businesses have generated both car and pedestrian traffic along this corridor. County buses pick up passengers along this road. Students have been crossing this street daily on their way to DASH, Miami Arts Charter and Archbishop Curley Notre Dame schools. We need the long-promised improvements to the street completed to improve safety, functionality and the appearance of this street. The project, already funded and initiated, includes multiple safety features, including:· Adequate sidewalks
· Parking lanes
· Bike lanes
· Clear street striping
· Functional street lighting
· Maintenance for the large swale trees, additional trees/green where possible.
What happened to this project? We demand answers and a clear timeline for its completion. Residents and patrons of our businesses should not be placed at such high risk. Thank you for your prompt response.
What a disgrace.
What makes it work? The buildings engage the pedestrian realm instead of hiding from it. The arcades not only add architectural flair, but they offer shaded walkways for pedestrians. The buildings are built right up to the sidewalk, which helps define urban space and enhance pedestrian accessibility. The sidewalk trees don’t appear to be much more than aesthetic at this point, but just as the neighborhood matures overtime, the trees should grow enough to add some shade in the future.
My favorite part of this development, however, is the creation of a public plaza. Public plazas, when designed right, can serve as great public gathering spaces and are the next best thing to parks. If you’ve ever been to Manhattan, you’ll notice that plazas are everywhere, and thousands and thousands of people use them each day, be it as a meeting place, for people-watching, or just as a nice spot to sit on a ledge and rest for a few minutes. William Whyte, a world-class urban observer and mentor for so many urban planners, does an excellent job showcasing public plazas in his book The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (the red book in our “recommended reading list”).
Thus, plazas present a great opportunity to provide Miami with more public meeting spaces, which it desperately needs. It’s very difficult to be a thriving urban destination without them. Oak Plaza’s architects even designed this particular plaza around 150 year old oak trees. Again, this shows that with good urban design we can have increased density without bulldozing over all of our trees. Khoury & Vogt, Cure & Penabad should be applauded for this design.
Note: The two main buildings at Oak Plaza will be called Y-3 and Ligne Roset.
Fortunately, we should see many more developments like this once Miami 21 passes. Oak Plaza embodies the type of design elements that Miami 21 will mandate. Hopefully those concerned with an increase in density in their neighborhood due to Miami 21 can see that Oak Plaza represents a great example to follow when critiquing future developments.
Erik Vogt, one of the project designers said it well when referring to Oak Plaza, “a critique of what Miami could have been and what it still could be”.
Beth Dunlop, Herald architectural critic says it even better:
“If every work of architecture had the intelligence, the artistry, the engagement and yes, the sense of enchantment of Oak Plaza, we’d be living in a really remarkable place”.
Photos courtesy of Congress for the New Urbanism
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