New Town SquareMiami, FL
PHOTO: Beatriz Beltran, Loly Padilla and Mirtha Gonzalez enjoy a retrofitted Biscayne Boulevard parking lot, between Flagler and Northeast First streets, that was converted into a temporary park to help residents reimagine downtown Miami.
Miami is giving people new reasons to ditch their cars and explore its urban core on foot.
A temporary” pop-up” green space in a city parking lot, new farmers’ markets under Metromover and Metrorail stations, and new water taxis ferrying locals and tourists between Miami and Miami Beach have all materialized in the past three months.
The three projects are independent of each other, but they contribute to a common vision: Miami as a livable, walkable city. That’s radical for a metropolitan area dubbed the third most dangerous city for pedestrians only three years ago, a deadly ranking that appeared in the national study “Dangerous by Design” from the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America.
Walkable streets joined by a chain of green spaces are at the heart of a master planning vision by the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corp., a new nonprofit formed by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County to ensure that the arts remain a central force in the development of its downtown Miami neighborhood.
People are taking advantage of these projects because they provide something new and unique – and they boost the quality of life in Miami:
• The pop-up park, dubbed the Bayfront Parkway, lasted for five days in late February and early March. It was transformed from a Biscayne Boulevard median used by the Miami Parking Authority into a lush green space that welcomed a variety of people – from yoga students attending morning and evening classes to students and faculty of Miami Dade College and New World School of the Arts performing live music and drama. Urban planner Ralph Rosado and architect Tony Garcia, who came up with the idea, hope their exercise will encourage the city to reclaim urban spaces for green public use.
• Two new water taxi services – Biscayne Xpress Water and Water Taxi Miami – started offering public transportation in January between downtown Miami and Miami Beach. The rides have shaved off minutes in travel time for commuters and visitors.
• Downtown office workers are finding fresh produce and other healthy food to eat during their lunch breaks at three new farmers’ markets at Metromover and Metrorail stations. Miami Dade Transit started the initiative in late February. The markets are at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center on Tuesdays, the Adrienne Arsht Metromover station on Wednesdays and the Civic Center Metrorail station on Thursdays and Fridays.
PHOTO CREDIT: Walter Michot / Miami Herald Staff