Transit-oriented development in Miami Gardens awaited
With plans on the drawing board to extend Metrorail from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. station to the Miami-Dade/Broward County line in the median of Northwest 27th Avenue comes a renewed interest in a transit-oriented development in Miami Gardens.
A Miami-Dade County request for proposals is in a cone of silence now, so transit officials won’t discuss it. But a September 2011 study hints at what eventually might take shape on the 14-acre parcel of county-owned land on the northwest corner of Northwest 215th Street and Northwest 27th Avenue, across the street from the Calder Casino and Race Course.
“Several different groups have come together, with the help of Miami-Dade County, the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust and the City of Miami Gardens to plan their future vision for the 14-acre Miami-Dade Transit-owned property,” the study said.
At that point, part of the site was planned to be a park-and-ride transit terminal, the study said, “and whatever development associated with the transit use that is deemed of highest and best use of the site. It should be provided that the design is flexible enough to evolve as transit matures into the future… a transit oriented development (TOD) should provide complementary uses that capitalize on the proximity to a transit station. At the very least, the project should generate a long-term source of income for the operation of the transit system.
“Density should focus and stimulate activity around the transit terminal and promote use of the transit terminal to the widest sample of the population,” the study said.
Zoning around the site is a mix of multi-family and single-family residential, the study noted. “To the north of the site, in the City of Miramar, is a future park site… while the opposite corner is [zoned] community business and heavy business.”
Neighbors of the site and county officials met to discuss what would happen there. Six scenarios were proposed:
The first blends mixed uses including restaurants, small retail, offices and a community hall, along with open spaces, landscape buffering and beautification that included trees, lighting, art and sculptures, with limited pedestrian-only access at Northwest 29th Avenue, on the western boundary of the site.
A Main Street scheme, similar to that of Miami Lakes, with shopping, dining and entertainment venues, separated from the surrounding neighborhood by a 10-foot wall, was proposed. The bus bays would be directly on Northwest 27th Avenue.
Another scenario, inspired by Main Street, would include a hotel, banquet facilities, offices, park space, a community hall, businesses, parking lots and garages, but no residential uses. The area would be entered by pedestrian-only gates at Northwest 29th Avenue and would include bicycle and walking paths.
A fourth plan allows only for commercial uses, with the bus bays along Northwest 27th Avenue and the Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike, just to the north of the site. The complex would be surrounded by a 10-foot wall and a landscape buffer between the site and the neighborhood, with no connection.
A “visibly appealing buffer” would surround the parcel in another scenario, which includes a hotel, banquet space, “quality shops and restaurants, and professional, up-scale development,” with no residential uses.
A final scheme divides the site, separating the bus bays and park-and-ride space from the mixed-use area, which would include bicycle paths and lanes, and streets landscaped with shade trees.
“After presenting several different design schemes, designers worked with residents… to narrow down the community’s comments into a more concise vision,” the study said. “Most of the residents gravitated toward the images of downtown Miami Lakes and the idea of a main street. This consensus would serve as the driving idea.”
Planners eventually came up with a design centered on a landscaped public plaza with a park, fronted by restaurants and other retail businesses. Walk paths, water features, street furniture, trees and other amenities complete the picture. It did not appear to include residential uses.
“In the proposed plan for the [transit-oriented development] at Northwest 215th Street and Northwest 27th Avenue, the open spaces are organized in a manner to provide a progression through the study area, so that people on foot or by bicycle could move from one public space to another, without the interruption of vehicular traffic,” the study report said. “Those who wish to take advantage of the new business and restaurants could do so on the comfortable, tree-lined streets, but for those who don’t, an interconnected network of public spaces will greatly improve their experience.”