Downtown Miami Looks to Tackle Growing Pains
Miami Authorities Set to Rise to the Challenge
Downtown Miami has become one of the fastest-growing urban cores in the world and local leaders are encouraging the city to tackle the challenges that come along with such growth.
The Miami Downtown Development Authority held an event at Brickell City Centre’s East Hotel in September for its 50th anniversary, where four of its board members both touted the city’s success and discussed its problems. Downtown now has 90,000 residents, a 50% increase since 2000 and another 20,000 people are expected to move in during the next five years. Many of them are in younger age groups. In addition, downtown has 162,000 daytime workers.
New residents and workers in Miami have helped businesses flourish. Shops in downtown generated more than $4.5 billion in retail revenue in 2015, according to the DDA. Additionally, more than 4,000 hotel rooms are under construction or proposed there.
Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, chairman of the DDA, said the authority has achieved what it set out to do in helping downtown develop into a vibrant city with more residents. Now it must work on issues that impact their lives such as affordable housing, schools and attracting tech companies.
Despite the decline in condo resales, closings of new units are occurring at a rapid pace when buildings are completed, Cervera said. With all those people moving in, all the retail planned in downtown is badly needed to serve the new residents.
Alan Ojeda, CEO of developer Rilea Group said, “Our future is our schools and our kids,” Ojeda said. “A city is not only buildings. A city is people.” Ojeda also said Miami should invest in placing monumental art in public places and in creating public transportation systems.
Julie Grimes, managing partner of the Hilton Bentley Hotel and asset manager of the Doubletree Grand Hotel added that almost 40 hotels are in the pipeline in downtown, the most in decades. The renovations to Miami International Airport and new direct flights have made it easier for tourists to reach the city.
Grimes said building public greenways and a walkway along Biscayne Bay would create new areas for visitors to explore. She hopes the Underline linear park beneath the Metrorail will connect with a bay front walkway and the Biscayne Green pedestrian-friendly renovations the DDA is pushing for on Biscayne Boulevard.
Kim Stone, executive VP of the Miami Heat and general manager of American Airlines Arena said, “The area around the arena is much better than 10 years ago. It’s safer, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is thriving and port traffic has been diverted through the tunnel. The AAA is the busiest arena in Florida and the seventh-busiest in the United States”.
Stone said city planners should think about how people interact on the street level. That includes walking and driving. Bad traffic is a major deterrent that prevents people from going downtown, she said. Downtown residents spend an average of $630 per month on transportation.
It seems that Miami’s authorities are rising to the challenges presented as a result of the rapid growth in the Downtown area. Miami is becoming one of the most important central business districts (CBDs) in America, with growth in the area still very much taking place.