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Front Page » Transportation » Coral Gables Mobility Hub weathers a design critique

Coral Gables Mobility Hub weathers a design critique

Written by on November 9, 2021
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Coral Gables Mobility Hub weathers a design critique

Coral Gables commissioners got another look at how the city’s mobility hub is coming along on Tuesday and suggested some detailed improvements moving ahead. Then, despite some concerns about a modern building’s looks, they voted to move the project forward.

During the commission meeting, city officials gave their input on what should be added into the design of the Coral Gables Mobility Hub at 245 Andalusia Ave., which is projected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.

After architecture firm Gensler completed its presentation, Mayor Vince Lago suggested having bicycle pathways and partnering with neighboring businesses to beautify the hub’s surroundings.

“I would engage with Mr. Stephen Bittel from Terranova, who owns those adjacent properties and ask him to become a willing participant and become a team player,” Mayor Lago said. “Since the investment we’re making is so significant, I think it’s in the best interest … through the city manager, someone should sit down with Stephen Bittel and have a conversation with him to see how we can figure out a partnership to what we’re going to see in the alley.”

“I promise you this, I will not support things that do not have the first floor (of the hub) taken care of because I do not want to look from Andalusia [Avenue] through the first floor and have to see that horrific alley,” the mayor added.

The other discussion the mayor brought up and addressed was bicycle connectivity and dedicated bike lanes.

“So, how can we ensure that we take into account that people can traverse our city? Let’s say we use Andalusia, what can we do to activate and make it as safe as possible for people to use bicycles if this is going to be the main corridor for people to ride bikes on the street?” Mayor Lago asked. “Let’s try to find something that’s outside of the norm, it’s a striped dedicated lane or whatever it may be. Let’s entertain options at our disposal, because I want to have this commission make a decision on those links.”

After hearing several residents’ contradicting viewpoints on the mobility hub’s design, Vice Mayor Michael Mena did not favor converting the hub into a traditional Mediterranean-styled building.

“I don’t mean to downplay viewpoints. It’s a fair viewpoint that ‘hey, we’d like this to be more traditional and aesthetic of the city,’ I get that. I just happen to disagree,” the vice mayor said. “I think this is a great opportunity to do something a little more unique, something that does make a bigger impact on our downtown business community. And after speaking to business owners, they’re looking for that.”

Mayor Lago suggested moving the project forward and later having a Sunshine Meeting with the architects “So, we can come to a resolution in regards to the skin of the hub and showcase what we can do as a team.”

The mobility hub is only at the design phase, Vice Mayor Mena added. “I think you’re hearing from us is that we want you (Gensler) to address the concerns we have.”

“I’m ready to vote on the bones of the product today and we’ll come back to the next commission meeting and vote on the skin,” Mayor Lago said and initiated the motion, which was approved.

2 Responses to Coral Gables Mobility Hub weathers a design critique

  1. Frances "Dolly" MacIntyre Reply

    November 11, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    It sticks out like a sore thumb! There is nothing wrong in designing a building that is compatible with its surroundings.

  2. Juan P Lluria Reply

    November 11, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    So relieved the mayor, vice mayor and commissioners saw the light and understand the sophistication of the design which will keep the city in the 21st Century. Too long a noisy minority of dinosaurs, who want Coral Gables to stay frozen forever in some imagined halcyon 1960 fantasy of a lost paradise, have been been making trouble and impeding the city’s inevitable evolution in the name of stupid provincial attitudes that insist the city must all be uniformly “Mediterranean” because they say it has to be. Utter bullocks and opinionated drivel from a small vociferous circle comprised of the same narrow minded opinionated but noisy people who have nothing better to do than complain anytime anything resembling an exciting positive change is presented. No one is suggesting demolishing landmark historic buildings. But as the late Philip Johnson once said, in the name of historic preservation, it’s now become the thing to try and preserve every old bard. Ludicrously pathetic.

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