Eating on the go: Train depot plans luxury grocer
Not only is All Aboard Florida planning residences, a hotel and offices at its downtown Miami station, but the company is also in talks with national grocery-store chains interested in setting up shop at the depot.
“When people get to the rail and think, ‘I need to pick up dinner on the way home,’ that’s sort of the mentality we are trying to introduce,” said Jose Gonzalez, senior vice president of corporate development at Florida East Coast Industries, the railroad’s parent company. “We want to be able to have this energy here where people live, where people shop.”
Representatives haven’t revealed official plans about a supermarket at the station. But Mr. Gonzalez said the company is talking with Lakeland-based Publix; Austin-based Whole Foods Market, which targets the health-conscious consumer; and Trader Joe’s, the California-based chain known for affordable gourmet offerings that last year opened its first Miami-Dade store in Pinecrest.
“I have to tell you, they are really excited about having an urban market there,” he said. “It’s something we see is very successful in other rail stations around the world.”
All Aboard Florida aims to energize downtown by tailoring operations to both rail passengers and non-passengers through concepts such as the urban market, Mr. Gonzalez said.
Mr. Gonzalez likened All Aboard Florida’s project to the Acela Express, part of Amtrak, connecting Washington and Boston. But, he added, All Aboard Florida’s riders will be mainly tourists, a market downtown Miami’s station will strive to capture through amenities such as the urban market.
“In Disney, when you get out of a ride what’s the last thing you see?” Mr. Gonzalez said. “The gift shop. Everybody ends up at the gift shop. Why? Because we want you to spend more dollars. We want Miami to be that gift shop.”
The station will be raised on a 50-foot viaduct. Renderings show translucent steel crisscrossing over the platform, which might block noise, Mr. Gonzalez said. Part of the station’s development is a 70-story mixed-use tower as well as three other buildings. Overall, the station is to include about 1,100 residential units, 1.1 million square feet of office space, 177,000 square feet of retail and 325 hotel rooms, Mr. Gonzalez told Miami Today.
All Board Florida plans three-hour rides linking downtown Miami to downtown Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. A train will run every hour, for a total of 32 trains in both directions daily, Mr. Gonzalez said.
Mr. Gonzalez presented All Aboard Florida’s plans for downtown Miami at a Freight Transportation Advisory Committee meeting last week. The committee, comprised of industry professionals, advises the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization.
While the railroad had approval to close Northwest 10th and 11th streets, it decided not to block the thoroughfares after meeting with downtown and Overtown residents, Mr. Gonzalez said, dispelling initial concerns by committee members. Construction on the downtown Miami station, he said, is to begin by year’s end.