Jax vs. Miami: Downtowns Headed in Opposite Directions?September 22, 2015 3 comments 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.
The Brickell Financial District is the epicenter of Miami's banking, investment and financial sectors. Brickell has most of the state's foreign consulates. With a 2010 population over 32,000, 1.19 square mile Brickell is also one of Miami's fastest-growing neighborhoods.
Swire Properties' Brickell CityCentre is a $1.05 billion mixed-use Transit Oriented Development (TOD) under construction in Brickell, just south of the Miami River. Anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, the 9.1 acre environmental friendly development contains 5.4 million square feet of office, residential, hotel, retail and entertainment space. In addition, the TOD, which is developed around an existing Metromover station, includes a two-level underground parking garage.
Brickell Avenue is the main thoroughfare serving the Brickell Financial District. Desiring the make the corridor into a multimodal friendly street, for years the City of Miami found itself at odds with Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) design standards. To eliminate the conflict, in 2014, the city passed Resolution R-13-0219, authorizing execution of a transfer agreement with FDOT. Now the city is responsible for owning, operating, and maintaining Brickell Avenue within the limits of the transfer.
Espirito Santo Plaza is a 36-story office building that loosely mimics the Saint Louis Arch. Completed in 2004, it is the headquarters for BrickellBank (formerly Espírito Santo Bank). The Four Seasons Hotel and Tower (right) is located just south of Espirito Santo Plaza. Rising 789', the 64-floor tower is the tallest building in Florida.
The island of Brickell Key grew +82.8% between 2000 and 2010. According to the 2010 Census, it had a population density of 57,566.2 residents per square mile.
With Brickell City Center well underway, Miami plans to transform South Miami Avenue into the entertainment and retail heart of Brickell. Plans call for a streetscape that includes wider sidewalks, heavily shaded landscaping, lighting and bicycle facilities.
Metrorail is Florida's only rapid transit metro system. The heavy rail system is composed of two lines of 23 stations on 24.4 miles of standard guage track.
With the opening of a line to Miami International Airport and new TOD adjacent to several stations, weekday ridership has increased from 59,900 in 2010 to 74,600 in 2014. One of downtown Miami's most ambitious projects, The Underline, is proposed to utilize right-of-way under Metrorail between the Miami River in Brickell and Dadeland. The Underline will transform the land into a 10-mile linear park and urban trail.