Jax vs. Miami: Downtowns Headed in Opposite Directions?

September 22, 2015 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Both cities were developed in the era of sunbelt sprawl and both have visions of downtown revitalization. However, one has ambitions of international greatness and the other is still in search of its identity. Today, Metro Jacksonville visits the downtown streets of a Sunbelt city attempting to transform itself into an internationally known walkable community: Miami.

Central Business District


Bayside Marketplace wraps along the banks of Biscayne Bay. Completed by the Rouse Company, the same year the Jacksonville Landing opened (1987), the center attracts 15 million visitors annually and is now owned by the same firm that owns Jacksonville's Regency Square Mall, General Growth Properties.


Plans are in the works to revamp and expand Bayside Marketplace. New development at Bayside include a $430 million, 1,000-foot observation tower called SkyRise Miami, which has already broken ground. In addition, Bayside's owner intends to add 17,000-square-feet of retail and a new walkable environment facing Biscayne Boulevard, eliminating its lack of connectivity with the rest of downtown. SkyRise is expected to open in late 2017.


The Miami Riverwalk parallels the north side of the Miami River for a mile between Bayside Marketplace and the Riverwalk Metromover Station.


The 32-acre Bayfront Park hosts many large events such as the New Year's ball drop, Christmas celebrations and concerts.




Metromover is a fare free 4.4-mile automated guideway transit system serving downtown Miami. Along with the Jacksonville Skyway and the Detroit People Mover, it is one of three downtown people movers built in the country during the 1980s. Metromover has a daily weekday ridership of 35,300.


The construction site of All Aboard Florida's MiamiCentral passenger rail station. When complete, this train station will include three million square feet of mixed-use development with residential, office and commercial, and a retail concourse. It will connect two Metrorail stations, two Metromover stations, Metrobus, and a future Tri-Rail station.


The Freedom Tower serves as a memorial to Cuban immigration to the United States. Originally completed in 1925 as the home of Miami News & Metropolis newspaper, the structure was used by the federal government to process, document and provide medical services for Cuban refugees during the 1960s. Today, the tower has been restored and converted into a museum, library, meeting hall and the offices of the Cuban American National Foundation.


Home to department stores La Época and Macy's, Flagler Street is downtown Miami's historic commercial thoroughfare. In an effort to make downtown's streets more pedestrian friendly, Flagler Street will be reconstructed over the next few years.









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