Many people have been asking me whether the public cannot be more involved in planning the extraordinary site now owned by Genting – if it does not become a casino destination site – which so many have been fighting in recent weeks. The issue is, of course, more than just Genting because we need to keep the pressure on against other destination resorts taking over as well. However, this threat, in my view, also provides Miami area residents with an opportunity to rethink our needs – somewhat similar to what happened with Bicentennial park back in 2000 when the Marlins desire totake the park was rejected by renewed public involvement- led by the Urban Environment League.
Seeing the future of the Genting owned land should not simply be an exercise for world famous architect/planners and influential business/developers. There should be a parallel public process created with a set of criteria and development principles to help develop this critically important area. We all realize that it is private property but the public should have significant impact on helping to forge its future. If done well this area could absolutely transform Miami and the region. In my view, we do not want another Millennium Park – like Chicago – but we should seek a unique design – even working with Genting if they choose to do so- as long as a resort destination casino is not part of their picture. All to often we try to ape other cities and their development formulas. Yet, in my view, any new plan should include:
-A gorgeous design that would attract major corporate headquarters – and go a long way to pay for the space.
-Integrate cultural center elements (Arsht Center, Science, Art Museums)
-Become thoroughly pedestrian friendly -with walk and bike ways and smart public transportation designs
-contain an attractive Community Center
-provide additional park space
-Allow major waterfront access and generous views of the bay
-Be acutely sensitive to nearby neighborhoods and people friendly walk and bikeways – to Overtown, Venetian Causeway etc
-Respect and enhance historical structures such as Trinity Church, the Boulevard Shops and the Woman’s Club.
Miami should not try to rebrand itself a theme park city or a Casino town but champion itself as a REAL CITY with a vital public that is involved in making smart plans for the future of all its residents. That means adding thousands of additional jobs, stimulating our cultural life, providing more public spaces and attracting businesses and people to live and work in our downtown area. It’s possible to do it with strong and effective leadership towards that end. That’s my perspective.
I’d like to hear other perspectives. These are my own views and do not necessarily express the views of anyone else.
Greg Bush, Urban Environment League
VOL 1, NO. 10: OCT 25, 2011
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