Retrofitting Murray Hill's Edgewood AvenueSeptember 15, 2015 6 comments Print Article
Miami's Coral Way is very similar to Murray Hill's Edgewood Avenue. Both streets are 100 feet wide because they were originally designed to accommodate early 20th century streetcar lines. Furthermore, both corridors developed as linear neighborhood commerical strips prior the completion of the Interstate Highway System. Thus, they're lined with several blocks of buildings featuring limited setbacks, one of the critical elements of a walkable, pedestrian scale thoroughfare. However, one might as well be from Mars and the other from Venus, when it comes to character and atmosphere.
Edgewood Avenue was originally platted in the late 19th century as the main thoroughfare for the Edgewood subdivision. In 1907, the area was replatted as Murray Hill Heights. Today, Edgewood Avenue is thriving up-and-coming corridor benefitting from its proximity to Riverside and Avondale. While, Edgewood Avenue's existing building stock continues to fill with new mom & pop businesses, the street design is severely lacking. This creates an unappealing image that negatively impacts the city as a whole since its far from the only street in town lacking "context sensitive" investment.
Its South Florida counterpart was built by George E. Merrick, the founder of Coral Gables, during the 1920s. It's the epicenter of the Coral Way neighborhood, which is sandwiched between Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. It's best known for its 1200 mature Banyan trees. The trees were planted in the street's median as a part of a 1929 Roadside Beautification Program. Like Murray Hill's Edgewood Avenue, it's lined with small buildings featuring mom & pop retailers and restaurants. However, as Miami continues to densify, the thoroughfare's inviting pedestrian scale environment is attracting infill development of various densities. New infill seamlessly fits into the neighborhood's atmosphere, due to the recent implementation of Miami 21. The City of Miami’s Form-Based Code is a national groundbreaking model because city officials completely replaced the existing zoning code. The code sets up walkable urbanism as the citywide default pattern for development and redevelopment.
In Jacksonville, with Edgewood Avenue, we clearly have the infrastructure. Judging by the amount of recent business openings in Murray Hill, we also have the private sector interest. What Miami's Coral Way illustrates is what we lack in terms of public sector involvement and investment. With a new mayoral administration and initiatives such as the Jacksonville Transportation Authority's (JTA) Mobility Works program underway, it's time for our public sector to do its part in enhancing Jacksonville's image and economic opportunities.
Next Page: Photo tour of Coral Way (pg.2) and Miracle Mile (pg.3)