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Front Page » Business & Finance » Expo center success rides on transit use

Expo center success rides on transit use

Written by on October 15, 2014
Expo center success rides on transit use

The mass transit system in Miami might not be at the level of other growing cities but one new major project downtown will be relying heavily on that system, say the developers.

Miami World Expo Center, a planned $600 million hotel and convention center, gained city commission approval Oct. 9 as a Regional Activity Complex.

The zoning code was recently amended to add design standards for these large developments, and their impact on traffic and transportation is addressed in the language of the resolution.

The city’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan allows for Regional Activity Complexes to “facilitate mixed-use development, encourage mass transit, reduce the need for automobile travel, provide incentives for quality development and give definition to the urban form,” reads the resolution.

The Expo Center, with its 1,800-room Marriott Hotel and more than 350,000 square feet of exhibition space, is to rise on the 4.7-acre site of the former Miami Arena at 700 N Miami Ave. and 700 NW First Ave.

It is sandwiched between two proposed mega projects: Miami Worldcenter, a plan to redevelop nearly 10 blocks of Park West into a residential and retail neighborhood, and All Aboard Florida with its plans for rapid passenger rail service.

The western boundary of the site abuts the existing Metrorail, and the northern end of All Aboard Florida’s proposed central rail station on Northwest First Avenue between Northwest Sixth and Eighth streets. The expo site is about two blocks from a Metromover station.

Because it’s so near mass transit, the developers are able to request a reduction in the number of parking spaces required for the expo center.

A letter to the city detailing requested waivers says a waiver to reduce required parking by 30% “is justified as a result of the limited space available on the site, the nature of [the] Expo Center’s occupancy, and by the property’s proximity to public transportation. The applicant anticipates that a sizable portion of the [center’s] visitors will be out-of-town guests. Given that many will be visiting for the purpose of attending an onsite convention, only a fraction of those guests will arrive by rental car.

“Given the property’s proximity to the existing Overtown/Area Metrorail Station and the future Miami Station for All Aboard Florida, a sizable number of local and regional visitors to the Expo Center are also likely to forego parking in the building’s garage in favor of public transit,” the letter says.

At recent meetings, representatives of Expo Center developers have noted how perfect the large vacant lot is.

The location next to rail service, and a proposed retail and entertainment venue, is synergy at work, said representative Tony Recio.

Architect Bruce Brosch, of Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates Inc., said the convention center will have easy access from I-95 and I-395 nearby, and “serendipitously for us” the parcel’s next door neighbor is All Aboard Florida.

“We see a seamless connection,” Mr. Brosch told city commissioners last week. The connection made to public transit is a significant component to the project, he said.

“Guests arriving by mass transit will be integral to our success,” he said.

Mr. Recio then spoke of a scenario in which a convention-goer flies into Miami International Airport and instead of renting a car hops on Metrorail and “is in our door within 30 minutes.”

A staff analysis of Miami World Expo Center reads: “The subject property, former site of the Miami Arena, is one of the largest properties in the downtown area that is already configured for major civic use and easily accessible by pedestrian, mass transit, and vehicles due to its wide sidewalks, proximity to a major rail transportation corridor, and proximity to major highways.”

In addition, the analysis notes: “The site is ideal for this type of large scale use because it does not require altering the city grid or network of roads.”

Javier Betancourt, deputy director of the Downtown Development Authority, told commissioners the development authority strongly supports the Expo Center, saying a convention center of this nature has been a top priority of the authority for years.

The Expo Center is expected to support business for all downtown hotels, and create thousands of new jobs, said Mr. Betancourt.

Miami World Expo Center will create more than 5,500 construction jobs over 36 months, said Mr. Recio, and when opened will create 5,400 permanent jobs.

P&G Investors LLC and its related MDM Development Group plan to begin the project this year, with an eye toward a December 2017 opening.

5 Responses to Expo center success rides on transit use

  1. t.b. postman

    October 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Whenever the supporting rational is”it will create jobs” you know it’s not a self sustaining, viable proposition. Nobody will be riding these trains, you can book that. The project will be renamed ETOTEC – empty trains on the East Coast.

    • DC Copeland

      October 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      I disagree. A lot of people will be riding these trains, especially those who live or have lived in visionary cities that have mass transit and are more accustomed to taking a train or subway to get around. Miami is playing catch-up to the best cities in the world. When Miami connects to Miami Beach via BayLink, then we will have finally joined the ranks of the most desirable places to live and work.

  2. trains

    October 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    “No one” Actually plenty of people will ride these trains including many tourist. So stop making up stuff.

  3. Eric

    October 15, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Maybe and maybe not. With 50 million people traveling between Miami and Orlando eachnyear, most of them tourists,maybe they will find riders. As for Metrorail, I take the train daily and it is getting more and more crowded. We need a major expansion of Metrorail as well as light rail to the beach but don’t see that happening in the near future.

  4. D Mee

    November 20, 2014 at 11:59 am

    With all the economic possibilities/transportation accessibility and temporary construction jobs generated by an efficient/effective rail interconnecting system that covers the entire County, WHY IN THE WORLD, do government leaders allow Miami-Dade County’s MDX to WASTE VALUABLE FUNDING to build and maintain a for-profit tolling system (which the tolls eliminates users of PUBLIC HIGHWAYS when tolls are not affordable, forcing them to pay more as a result of additional gas consumption/wear & tear on vehicle)instead of utilizing funds to construct a viable rail system. Now that the tolls are “$ching, $ching, $ching” there is an uproar about the transportation. Where were all these leaders before when funding may have been obtain? Perhaps, today, we we be opening new rail links that would make us a “world class city”