The following is a submission by Jennifer Garcia of Garcia Design Studio in Coral Gables.
My wishful thinking and blind admiration of Coral Gables has tricked me again! One would think that with all the hype Coral Gables gets for historical preservation and aesthetics, that new construction could be close-to-perfect. For the most part, I can proudly state that most new developments have been positive and typically change the cityscape for the better - infill of vacant properties; creation of quality public space; improving intersections and leveling the transportation playing field. Unfortunately, even a forward-thinking city doesn’t get everything right all the time. Case in point: the Northern Trust Bank property at the northeast corner of Biltmore Way and Segovia.
Not familiar with the intersection? It is a relatively new round-a-bout, now receiving funding for civic monuments; bookended for the Segovia median/bike lane project; and centerpiece for future Biltmore Way Streetscape Project.
Where once stood a mod￼￼￼￼est 1960’s corner building - with parking appropriately in the rear and side - is now an elaborate surface parking lot. I have to admit that when they were constructing the new building in the former parking area, I thought they were infilling the old lot! To my disappointment, once the new building was up, the old building came down to make way for their new parking lot. Now the new bank building sits on the east part of the property. The parking lot at this “major gateway” corner creates several issues:
This is urban design 101: to create a successful public realm, you need to hold the corner at every intersection. Missing buildings on any street are like missing teeth - a missing corner building is like missing your front teeth!
New parking lot without bicycle parking?
You would think that with the investment of a new parking lot along a newly designated bike corridor on Segovia that a goal would be to provide a suitable amount of bike parking.
Expensive materials don’t cut it
￼This parking lot is definitely top-of-the-line, with all sorts of pavers; trees; and even a corner fountain at the sidewalk. But we know no matter how much money is spent on materials and landscaping, nothing can hide the fact that its still a parking lot.
I’d like to challenge the city when approving permits to begin with a critical eye of how it may impact the overall neighborhood. Coral Gables residents are proud of our City Beautiful, and don’t like to see mistakes like this.
You can follow Jennifer on Twitter at @Garcia_Design.
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