Downtown Miami street closing for All Aboard Florida
Written by John Charles Robbins on August 16, 2016
Part of Northwest First Avenue in the heart of downtown Miami will close to public use so it can be realigned as part of the major redevelopment of the area led by All Aboard Florida.
Miami city commissioners approved the closure, which impacts Northwest First Avenue between Northwest First and Second streets. First Avenue curves in that area, between the county courthouse and the Stephen P. Clark Center, Miami-Dade County government’s headquarters.
Applicants for the street closure are DT Miami A LLC, DT Miami B LLC, and the City of Miami.
Bilzin Sumberg land use attorney Javier Aviñó, representing the companies, said the move was needed in order to realign the street and is part of a larger agreement that the developers and the city reached last year.
The commission’s resolution closing the street says the purpose of the closure is to annex the closed section of Northwest First Avenue into the approved Tract A, and to realign it with North Miami Court.
“The reason for the request is to further unify a development site for the redevelopment of Flagler Gran Central Station (part of the All Aboard Florida rapid transit facilities),” the resolution says.
The realignment will basically straighten out the curve of that section of Northwest First Avenue.
With work commencing in 2014, the 11-acre site is being redeveloped as a major transportation hub called MiamiCentral, rising in an area that once was home to the city’s first train station.
MiamiCentral is on track for a 2017 opening, and with it, apartments, shops, offices and other companion commercial uses.
The new rail station is being integrated with the Miami-Dade County Metrorail and Metromover systems, and is being considered a major transit hub for the city with connections to buses, trolleys, taxis and more.
Its primary function is home to a new passenger rail service called Brightline. MiamiCentral will also house a Tri-Rail link.
Just west of the main construction, All Aboard Florida is now building a mixed-use project known as 3 MiamiCentral that will bring a grocer, along with office and retail uses to the Overtown neighborhood.
The planning and zoning department as well as the planning, zoning and appeals board recommended approval of the street closure.
A staff analysis said the closure is consistent with the Miami Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan.
The closure will facilitate cohesive development, economic growth, and revitalization the analysis says.
“The closure is important to the local traffic flow, as well as for the revitalization and enhancement of the areas surrounded by Flagler Gran Central Station Transit facilities. This street closure will result in a positive impact for the City of Miami in general,” the analysis says.
Included in the staff analysis are findings from the city’s Plat and Street Committee on the closure, including:
•The tentative plat site is part of the new “rapid transit facility station (All Aboard Florida),” which will combine mixed-use development spanning from Northwest First to Northwest Eighth streets, between Northwest First Avenue to the east and Metrorail to the west. The closure of a section of Northwest First Avenue and the redevelopment as a passageway “will enhance the pedestrian access and circulation areas in and around the proposed Station.” The proposed redevelopment of the Flagler Gran Central Station site will benefit from the enhanced public access and circulation provided by the new configuration connecting Northwest First Avenue and Northwest First Street.
•In order to mitigate the impact of the closure, the applicant proposes to connect and realign Northwest First Avenue (between Northwest Second and First streets) to North Miami Court by broadening its lanes and reducing pedestrian and vehicular conflict.
•There would be no adverse effect on the ability to provide fire, police or emergency services. The closure will provide a wider realigned street that allows access for these services.
In October 2015 there was a land swap between the City of Miami and another affiliate of All Aboard Florida.
Commissioners were told the move could one day lead to a new fire station downtown.
On Oct. 22, commissioners approved an agreement with FDG Rail Holdings 25 LLC and AAF Miami TOD Holdings LLC. It involved a land exchange of two city-owned properties, about 0.18-acre and about 0.32-acre, for about a half acre of FDG-owned land at 435 NW First Court.
All Aboard Florida also agreed to pay the city $500,000 and “shall be granted certain crossing rights to allow AAF to use that certain portion of NW 8th street including subsurface and air rights,” the agreement said.
This was to assist the company in construction of MiamiCentral and related development.
City Manager Danny Alfonso said then that staff was working with AT&T to get more land nearby for a fire station to replace Station 1, at 144 NE Fifth St., the city’s oldest firehouse.
The commission recently approved land use and zoning changes to the Fifth Street property, with the intention of selling the high-profile site.