Miami worships parking. Indeed, we can’t seem to build an urban building without smothering it with suburban parking requirements. Usually this comes in the form of parking as base or parking as appendage. The garage under construction above — an appendage if I have ever seen one — is located at Northwest Third Street, directly across the street from the new US Federal Courthouse. Currently at 10 stories, this latest garage is ostensibly being built to serve the needs of Courthouse employees and visitors. There are  three glaring problems with this development.

1) The Courthouse was finished long in advance of the garage, which believe it or not means that employees and visitors are miraculously finding parking, despite the non-existence of this new garage.  What, with the acres of surface parking lots, street parking, and other garages in the immediate vicinity, how could they not?

2) One block to the southwest of this new garage is Government Center, where Metrorail, Metromover, and Metrobus all converge. If there was just one location in downtown Miami able to reduce its parking requirements, this would be it.

3) The garage is being built with ramped floors, meaning that conversion to another use, say  office building or residential with retail on the ground floor, will remain nearly impossible. A better parking garage would have flat floors and floor to ceiling heights that allow for the conversion to a higher and better land use,  as dictated by the market.

By requiring and building so much parking, Miami will continue to develop an auto-oriented downtown,  make development more expensive than it has to be, and keep the transit that we have from reaching its potential. Sure, some parking is needed when building high intensity downtown uses, but implementing a more creative shared parking approach, along with reducing overall parking requirements, especially when in proximity to transit -as proposed in Miami 21-would make a far more efficient, transit-oriented, and walkable downtown. Until we do that, Miamians should expect that their downtown will never reach its full potential.

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18 Responses to Miami’s Newest Garage Mahal

  1. John Hopkins says:

    A good post, Mike! What WERE they thinking?


  2. Anonymous says:

    This is Disturbing


  3. Felipe A says:

    These parking garages are ridiculous. If you park on the 10th floor, prepare yourself for a 10 minute commute inside the parking garage. How awful.


  4. Andy says:

    Terrible. I’m still surprised by how many people drive to Heat games where there are train stops less than two blocks away.


  5. Eli says:

    Great post. I really hate seeing these projects. Every time I feel like the city is making progress towards a real progressive urban future, I see this junk. It really is one step forward and two steps back with Miami.


  6. Silver says:

    Won’t make much difference in my negativity towards this, but just curious, who is the ‘owner/builder/developer’ of this garage? Is this a Fed or local gov’t project? Will courthouse employees be entitled to free/reducued parking?

    There may be trainstops close to the Arena, but there might not be train stops close to where peple are coming from. In addition, if you are lucky enough to live near one and want to go out after the game for dinner, you’re limited to where you can go and how to get back afterward.


  7. Tony Garcia says:

    There are two discussions going on here: 1. Is this parking necessary, and 2. If it is necessary is this the way you should do it?

    On the first point there is a grey area because public transit is lacking - maybe not within downtown, but as to Silver points out, from places beyond MDT’s effective area. Nevertheless, oversupplying parking is obviously bad. As Mike said - they have to be parking somewhere.

    I think we’ll all agree on point 2 that if parking is necessary then this is not the way to do it. This building would not be allowed under Miami 21 - you can count on that! No ground floor retail, no liner building. This is a calamity. This is a great example of a building that is useless/outdated from inception.


  8. Mike Lydon says:

    …not so fast…i think *some* retail space may be planned. Otherwise, there is something inherently wrong with a 10+ story parking garage. Think of what a loser you will feel like if you circle around and have to park all the way to the top. This is a major sympton of a greater problem…that development won’t happen unless we incentivize parking up the wahoo. It can be a chicken-egg problem, but I through the power of observation I know of no great places that offer up 10+ story parking garages on a regular basis. Hell, I don’t even think NYC does, and they have more density than Miami will ever dream of having.


  9. Tony Garcia says:

    Brian’s link above to the garage architect’s website was delayed. The link shows a liner on one side of the garage….but lets get real - this is still just a parking garage. I don’t see it as a ‘world class mixed-use facility’.


  10. Mike Lydon says:

    …and the parking is still horribly exposed on what will likely be three of the four sides.


  11. Thank you for highlighting our progress with the College Station Garage. Please allow me to clarify some of the misconceptions listed in your post and subsequent responses.

    The Miami Parking Authority is replacing an existing, crumbling, 40+ year old, 515-space garage with a mixed-use development that will include 852 parking spaces, 5,000 square feet of retail and over 39,000 square feet of office space.

    Serving the new, currently only partially occupied federal courthouse as well as numerous other area parking demand generators, the demand for this facility will be immediate. Our customers are anxiously awaiting its opening due to its proximity to several major venues.

    Many of your suggestions regarding the construction of the facility were previously considered. For example, once complete, it will scarcely resemble a parking garage with its liner units and attractive facade treatments that will camouflage the structure well. However, the express ramps necessary to create the level floors that you mention are simply too expensive, given the unlikely chances the facility will ever be converted to another use.

    We at Miami Parking Authority are proponents of public transportation and we recognize the importance of balanced commuting options. We sincerely hope that someday mass transit can relieve some of pressure on parking-stressed areas of Miami. MPA will continue to fulfill our mission and meet the City’s parking needs now and in the future.

    Fred Bredemeyer
    Chief Operations Officer, MPA


  12. Tony Garcia says:

    Thanks for your reply Fred.

    I think many of us would agree that providing parking is a practical need in a city, but we disagree with the amount of parking and the form that the parking takes.

    Part of this discussion centers around how parking is distributed around the neighborhood. The idea of centralized parking works when you reduce the amount of parking required by surrounding buildings. In this case there are parking discounts when developing within a certain radius of a transit stop - but most new buildings still have to provide lots of on-site parking. This oversupply of parking only hinders transit ridership by making it too convenient for people to drive rather than take transit.


  13. Mike Lydon says:

    More parking also greatly undermines the quality of the pedestrian realm, makes bicycling more difficult, and encourages downtown Miami to be nearly as car-oriented as Kendall.

    I know you are proud of your new building Fred, and rightly so, because it does represent an improvement over what was there before. However, it speaks largely to a more ingrained issue of oversupplying the parking for a downtown that can’t figure out what it wants to become. Urban or suburban? This largely has to with parking requirements.

    If the MPA wants a parking solution, invest in more things that make the city less car-dependent, not more so. We will all benefit greatly from such actions.

    Indeed, every great city in America is wonderfully under supplied with parking because it is a detriment to what makes urbanism special in the first place. In Miami it’s the opposite, we have too much parking, and very little urbanism, as well as a downtown that has a horrible reputation, despite the strides it has made in recent years.

    Please support Miami 21 and its new parking requirements and please consider instituting shared parking facilities, so that day-time uses and complimentary night-time uses can use the same facilities, not rely on their own. Please stop relying on “demand-generators” studies, which always find more demand, but never solve the problem. You will never satisfy demand your current strategy. Let the parking fail, and note how people will find other ways to get to the ball-game, work, or the park. It works in every great city, and it will work in our own.


  14. John says:

    While this parking garage may seem like a bad suburban idea at first glance, I think it would do more good than harm in this case. The government center/courts area is surrounded by an outrageous number inefficient surface lots which have similar footprints and yet provide about one-fifth of the parking capacity. I see this structure as a way of freeing up valuable lots which have the potential to be used in a more efficient manner (more development).


  15. Tony Garcia says:

    I agree John. I think centralized parking is better than having surface lots and parking included in every building.


  16. […] that something needs to be done about parking garages in Miami, perhaps this article in Transit Miami will.  If that is still not enough, join me on a walk through Brickell Bay Drive — I mean […]


  17. […] environments because land owners don’t have the money to develop it themselves.  If the new federal courthouse parking garage being built by the MPA is any indicator — there is no place for standalone parking garages […]


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