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Question - What’s 11 stories tall, 129,000 SF, located within 0.3 miles of a transit station in a dense transit-oriented quadrant of the city (see map above), and dedicates 54% of its available volume to parking?  If you guessed Miami’s newest rising LEED Silver office structure just south of the Health District, then you guessed right.

Via Globestreet:

The space is designed to LEED Silver standards and will cater to the needs of healthcare professionals, according to Gutierrez Group…The 11-story building, located at 1001 Sunnybrook Road, will include four stories of office space and six floors of parking, says Jeb Bush Jr., commercial sales and leasing agent for Coral Gables-based Fairchild Partners, which will handle leasing for Highland Park.

Welcome to Miami.  Only Miamians can figure out how to rig the LEED certification standards so that this lousy excuse of a building can become Silver Certified.  Honestly, this building should be imploded upon completion.  The building, pictured below, is reminiscent of a few other less than notable properties we’ve discussed before (See: Miami Green, Bay of Pigs Museum, Marina Blue, etc.) and littered with the same atrocious parking standards Miami has become renown for.  Some might even say we have “world-class” parking standards.  I traveled the great cities of the United States and part of the world and have never seen another city that takes such pride in its autocentric designs.  Without a formal analysis, I’d go so far as to suggest that we have more parking structures in our high transit centers than any other city I’ve seen yet.  Its projects like these that will really tarnish the USGBC’s LEED certification system.

Image Credit: Vitruvius09 via SSC

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Recall the post where I had the opportunity to interview Miami Beach chief of Staff AC Weinstein? Good, because here are some thoughts I drew up on the conversation, many of which I commented directly to AC throughout our first of many discussions on the future of Miami Beach…

Now, the first question on development, I fear, may have been interpreted a little bit too literally, but that is what happens when you try to be so precise with the wording of questions. The intention was never to correlate the cranes in Miami ensure economic vitality, but rather insinuate how in such a difficult market would Miami Beach continue to grow in order to ensure a steady tax revenue stream and thus guaranteeing the future economic vitality of Miami Beach industry. I was also hinting that height restrictions and true urban density should not be so interconnected with increased congestion on the Beach and that absurd limitations would only hamper future economic options for Miami Beach.

I was disappointed (not surprised) upon hearing Mr. Weinstein’s reply regarding Baylink, but was utterly dismayed when discussing the reasoning behind it. The basic arguments presented against Baylink (by the Beach) have been: Hurricanes, Washington Avenue, the Flexibility of Buses, and now apparently Historic Character. Hurricanes, we’ve addressed, this is a moot point considering all wires and structures will be built to hurricane standards and underground wires are not out of the realm of possibilities. Coincidentally, the reconstruction of Washington Avenue occurred at time when Miami Beach officials were beginning to object to Baylink (remember the famous quote around then: “Baylink will further enable those people to readily access the beach?“) Baylink would only further enhance the Washington Avenue streetscape, requiring only insertions of tracks while leaving much of the rest alone. My Favorite: “Flexibility of buses.” Miami Beach is like what, 11 blocks wide where most of the streetcar will be traveling? I doubt selecting any of these two streets will pose a problem when the streetcar will be virtually within a 4 block walk of nearly every address South of the Bass Museum. You really can’t go wrong. As for the Historic City comment, please look below at the Miami Beach Streetcar Map in 1928, or click here for some solid video evidence.
My qualm with the whole Baylink discussion was that the office of the mayor has yet to provide a legitimate alternative transit solution to handle the city’s current and upcoming demand. The reports I’ve seen both indicate that congestion will reach unbearable levels by 2011 (the economic vitality I was hinting at earlier would certainly suffer) all but promoting the idea of a longer termed solution. The office mentioned no plans to improve (or green) bus capacity, build transfer stations, or work with MDT to enable better signal prioritization along key corridors.

We’re pretty excited the Mayor’s office created the Green committee, however we’re not quite sure what tasks the committee will be tackling or what the stated goals of the committee are. There aren’t any plans, yet, to push for mandatory LEED certification on new construction or considerations for alternative fuels, car sharing, or other equally progressive programs.

The Bikeways and expanded bike lanes were a breath of fresh air. It’s reassuring to see the city take the necessary steps to move in a bike-oriented direction and even require bicycle parking. I hope the city (and perhaps the green committee) see that the addition of transit will only further enhance the cycling options while creating a much cleaner environment along the beach.

All in all, my conversation with Mr. Weinstein proved to be beneficial to us here at Transit Miami, as well as with many of the Miami Beach constituents. Mr. Weinstein provided us with a glimpse of the mentality issues we’ll have to face in the coming years in order to see real public transportation options come into fruition while providing a fresh, new perspective on the bicycle/pedestrian improvements the Beach hopes to make.

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The planners for the old Spanish Village development along Ponce Circle in the Gables are working to create a new office building (shown above) which would attempt to replicate the Barcelona Cathedral: I’m not sure what the final building will look like, but I’ve always been curious to see a modern day Gothic building rise. The 215,000 square foot office building is slated to become the centerpiece of the development and the new home of the Cisneros Group.
Given the Gothic design, I’m kind of curious to see how the rest of the development will be designed. Hopefully, the final product will be as nice of an addition to the Gables skyline as the Alhambra Tower recently was…

Here was the original design when the tower was slated for condominiums:

1450 Brickell, the newest office building in Brickell since the Espirito Santos Plaza, broke ground last week. The 33 story glass tower will feature over 500,000 square feet of office space and is aiming for Silver LEED certification.

Meanwhile, just up the avenue today will be the official ground breaking ceremony on the Brickell Financial Center office buildings at 600 Brickell. The 40 story, 600,000 square foot office building is set to be complete in 2009 and is also seeking LEED certification.

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Miami could soon become a national leader in green building. Mayor Diaz is pushing an initiative that would require all new buildings of 50,000 sq ft or more to be LEED certified. According to the US Green Building Council,
“LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
  1. Sustainable site development
  2. Water savings
  3. Energy efficiency
  4. Materials selection
  5. Indoor environmental quality”

If approved by the city commission in May, it would be a progressive policy move that would serve as big step forward in sustainable growth in Miami. The new “green building” requirements would include some of the strictest policies of the sort to be implemented in any major American city thus far.

Now if only the city and county would overhaul its ridiculous, suburban-oriented parking codes, our new green buildings such as “Green Miami” (under construction adjacent to Douglas Metrorail Station) would truly be sustainable, pedestrian-oriented, and transit oriented, thereby not inducing travel demand by cars and exacerbating the main contributor to global warming.

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